Welcome to a short review of the major 2023 news stories that were published in New AG International during the year.
It was another busy year for M&A activity in the biological space. In September, Biobest Group acquired Biotrop for USD$570 million. Early in the year, the biocontrol specialist had also acquired BioWorks.
Also in the biologicals sphere, the year began with Valent Biosciences acquiring FBSciences (January 2023). 2BMonthly interviewed Courtenay Wolfe, CEO and Chairwoman, FBSciences in the April issue: “This definitely puts this combined entity in a category of one as the global leader in the biorationals space. FBSciences’ biostimulant technologies and products will be joined into the Valent BioSciences biostimulants division.”
In February, Olmix Group acquired French biotech company Bois Valor, foliar biostimulant and seed treatment. Ferm O Feed and Plant Health Cure merged into Den Ouden GrowSolutions in the same month.
Business does not always turn out positively. A casualty in 2023 was Anuvia Plant Nutrients, which ceased operations in May. Anuvia Plant Nutrients was a fertilizer company manufacturing its proprietary SymTRX fertilizer products (14-24-0-10S / 17-1-0-20S), including technology that enhanced nutrient efficiency, as well as incorporating biomaterial.
Among New AG International’s most read stories was the announcement by Yara in June 2023 that it planned to build new specialty fertilizer and biostimulant production capacity in the UK. Read here.
BASF said it intended to close fertilizer production at its Ludwigshafen site in Germany, owing to high production costs, and later in the year announced plans to build a new fermentation plant for crop protection products at the site – as covered in the New AG Yearbook (PDF available from January).
Brandt Brasil is investing in a new production facility in Brazil. Announced in July 2023, 2BMonthly interviewed Wladimir Chaga, President and Managing Director, Brandt Brasil. Regarding the plans for the new facility, he said: “We are going to produce biopesticides, inoculants, botanical extracts and biostimulants. Most products will be produced as powder and liquid formulations, but we will also be working on hybrid and nanoencapsulated products.”
Elsewhere, BioBee inaugurated a new production facility in Israel (August 2023) and Agro 100 completed a new liquid fertilizer and biostimulant manufacturing plant in Quebec, Canada.
On the subject of liquid fertilizer markets, a most-read story was our interview with water-soluble fertilizer trading company Aquifert, who shared trends on the current state of the market. Read here.
We had some re-branding as well, with Rovensa Group announcing Rovensa Next in February 2023. Syngenta brought Valagro under the name of Syngenta Biologicals in July 2023. Corteva Agriscience unveiled Corteva Biologicals at the Biostimulants World Congress in 2023. Novozymes and Chr. Hansen merger revealed Novonesis as the name of the combined entity in December 2023.
Predictions for 2024
So, what is in store for 2024? Here, we pick up on some themes from 2023 and combine with other industry analysis.
1) Higher borrowing costs have reportedly impacted the ability of smaller companies and start-ups to raise capital. 2024 could see M&A focused more on deals that provide a route to growth for these companies.
2) Fertilizer prices rose during the pandemic and 2023 saw them continue to fall back. So how to differentiate your product in the market now that you can’t undercut on price? 2024 could see some new fertilizer product launches that look to differentiate themselves.
3) The New AG International Yearbook featured a couple of new biostimulant products made from byproducts. This could be a feature for 2024 as more companies look towards the circular economy as a way of finding a USP.
4) In hi-tech agriculture, the coming year is likely to see continued improvements in automation, in both field and controlled environment agriculture applications.
5) And finally, despite some vertical farms running into difficulties in the last two years, largely owing to higher energy costs, 2024 could see more of the supermarket companies looking to bring vertical farms into their real estate.
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