23 November 2001

Dramatic rise in the use of generic products forecast

OFF-PATENT pesticides look set to fill many more sprayers as farmers strive to cut costs.

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 key benefit to growers is that they increase market competition, he said. 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. The latest herbicide to come off-patent, next month, is diflufenican.

"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, said Mr Sisson.

In a maturing agrochem market there is likely to be a firm role for approved off-patent products, added 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, acknowledged Mr Butchart. "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." &#42