22 December 2000

Global business looking to feed the world…

By Andrew Blake

IF the world is to feed its growing population, there is no alternative to more intensive yet sustainable agriculture. And growers will need to forge closer relationships with problem solvers and end users.

Those are clear messages behind the launch of Syngenta, the new global business formed by merging Novartis Agribusiness and Zeneca Agrochemicals.

In 1960 the world had 1ha (2.5 acres) available to feed every two people, says Jan Suter, head of Syngenta Crop Protection in the UK and Ireland. "By 1995, that hectare was supporting four people. By 2025 it will be five. Our industry will play a vital role in helping grow more food and preserving natural habitats."

The merger makes Syngenta the biggest player devoted solely to agribusiness, says Mr Suter. Sales-wise it becomes number one in crop protection products and number three in seeds.

Based on 1999 figures, its combined sales of $7.43bn represents nearly one-fifth of the total world market of about $40bn. New synergies are expected to add another $525m/yr by 2004.

The move also takes it to the top of the tree in terms of research outlay, which totalled $785m in 1999. "It gives us the critical mass needed to compete in all technologies.

"But the fundamental fact is that if we are to be successful we can only do so by helping our customers succeed. To make profits we must have profitable customers."

Growers are under tremendous financial, environmental and consumer-led pressures, says Mr Suter. The new company, with its blend of complementary products, will offer them better-targeted ICM solutions, help in decision-making and improved yields and quality.

"Our aim is to be the partner of choice with customers throughout the food chain."


&#8226 Novartis/Zeneca merger.

&#8226 Number one in crop protection chems.

&#8226 Number three in world seeds market.

&#8226 Integrated crop solutions focus.

Syngenta market share

World sales

Fungicides 32%

Selective herbicides 24%

Non-selective herbicides 18%

Insecticides 16%

UK products in pipeline

Having been obliged to sell trifloxystrobin to merge Novartis and Zeneca, Syngenta hopes to get registration for picoxystrobin cereal fungicide (Arable Nov 24, p66)) in time for field testing in 2001. The new active offers unique xylem movement and vapour action.

Other new products for 2001, subject to registration, include Wakil Excel (metalaxyl M + fludioxinil + cymoxanil) seed treatment for peas, Plenum WG, a wettable granule formulation of the aphicide Plenum (pymetrozine), Folio Gold (chlorothalonil + metalaxyl M) vegetable seed treatment, and an optimised glyphosate in Touchdown 2.

Novel herbicide and fungicide chemistry, including a low dose grass weed killer with a very wide application window, are anticipated for 2003/4. "We expect to have some significant new products in the not too distant future," says SCPs John Evans.