14 November 2001
Boom predicted for generic sprays

By Andrew Blake

OFF-PATENT pesticides look set to fill many more sprayers as farmers strive to cut costs, delegates at this weeks British Crop Protection Conference in Brighton heard.

Global use of such generics, many of which fired the technological advances of the 1970s and 80s, is expected to rise from about 30% of the current market to 47% by 2005, according to Adrian Sisson of generic supplier Makhteshim-Agan (UK).

The latest mainstream active ingredient to come off-patent, next month, is diflufenican.

Key benefit to growers of the move to generic manufacturing is that such products increase market competition, Mr Sisson explained.

“They do tend to be cheaper.” Extra competition has driven down glyphosate and isoproturon prices by 60% and 41% respectively in six years.

Resistance management is another reason for the increasing use of generics, like pendimethalin and trifluralin, said Jim Orson of Morley Research Centre.

“There is also huge use of generics in repeat low-dose techniques for sugar beet.”

In some cases, particularly niche uses, it is only generic suppliers who provide support for products under the EUs review of older actives, noted Mr Sisson.

In a maturing agrochem market there is likely to be a firm role for approved off-patent products, agreed Farmacys Jim Butchart.

“Farmers should have no qualms about using them. There is no reason why it should affect the quality of advice available.”

However, end-user protocols may cause problems, Mr Butchart acknowledged.

“Protocols are effectively a second tier of approval and there is a lot of prejudice over what some companies perceive as black-drum products.

“I spend a great deal of my time convincing them otherwise.”