15 March 2002

End of the road for independents

THE trend for independent agronomy services is coming to an end, says one of the UKs leading supply companies.

"We believe it has plateaued and if anything might be going into reverse," says UAP marketing director Lawrence Hicks. "Independent consultants will find it very, very difficult without the type of resources behind them that we have."

Those resources include 80 agronomy trials/year and access to new products and varieties two or three years before they come to market.

The new strobilurins will feature strongly in UAP agronomists recommendations this spring, for example, not because the company has bought the manufacturers sales pitches, but because they know they should improve customers returns over fungicide costs, he says.

Technical director Chris Bean underlines Mr Lawrences point. "We dont believe we can exist on the data from other sources."

Manufacturer investment in near market research is declining making distributors role in learning how best to deploy new products for growers increasingly important, he maintains.

An increasing use of generic products adds to that. Generic product manufacturers, such as Israeli company Mahkteshim Agan, focus purely on producing agrochemical at least cost, moving high volumes at low margin.

Mahkteshim now supplies 10% of the UK herbicide market and UAP has played a key role in marketing. "They have told us what to do with our products," says Mahkteshims Rob Williams.

But Mr Lawrence acknowledges the trend for growers to demand separate, itemised bills for agronomy services and chemical supply is set to continue. About 15% of UAPs customers are already on such a service, he says.

"Ultimately we can itemise all the advisory parts and our customers can choose from a menu of services." &#42

Can your independent agronomist keep up? UAPs Lawrence Hicks maintains many wont as manufacturer near market research wanes.

Distribution depot

UAPs new 9,290sq m (100,000sq ft) distribution centre near Huntingdon replaces 10 regional stores and is the biggest dedicated ag-chem distribution depot in Europe. "It can supply over 30% of the UK ag-chem market," says logistics manager Andrew Smith. Many products come in direct from manufacturers, cutting a tier out of the supply chain and 99% of farm deliveries are made within 24 hours. "Our aim is 80% next day, 20% same day," he says. A new integrated IT system called ASSET (Agronom

ture strongly in UAP agronomists recommendations this spring, for example, not because the company has bought the manufacturers sales pitches, but because they know they should improve customers returns over fungicide costs, he says.

Technical director Chris Bean underlines Mr Lawrences point. "We dont believe we can exist on the data from other sources."

Manufacturer investment in near market research is declining making distributors role in learning how best to deploy new products for growers increasingly important, he maintains.

An increasing use of generic products adds to that. Generic product manufacturers, such as Israeli company Mahkteshim Agan, focus purely on producing agrochemical at least cost, moving high volumes at low margin.

Mahkteshim now supplies 10% of the UK herbicide market and UAP has played a key role in marketing. "They have told us what to do with our products," says Mahkteshims Rob Williams.

But Mr Lawrence acknowledges the trend for growers to demand separate, itemised bills for agronomy services and chemical supply is set to continue. About 15% of UAPs customers are already on such a service, he says.

"Ultimately we can itemise all the advisory parts and our customers can choose from a menu of services." &#42