Off-patent agrochemical specialist Adama Agricultural Solutions has gone through a change of ownership recently, but even though it’s now in the same stable as Syngenta, the two won’t be merging any time soon.

At an Adama UK press briefing this week, company managers explained that while the two businesses are separate, global competition regulators have demanded changes to avoid the combined group having dominance in any market sector.

“The Syngenta deal has gone through so it is now 100% owned by ChemChina as we are too,” stated Adama UK’s technical and marketing director Ali Bosher. “At the end of 2016, Adama was bought out completely by ChemChina.

“Are we going to merge with Syngenta?  In the short and medium-term, absolutely not,” she said, stressing that the two are very different businesses. Syngenta is a leading research-based crop protection company, while Adama concentrates on marketing its portfolio of off-patent crop protection products. Syngenta is one of the world’s largest seeds companies, while Adama has no seeds market presence. Syngenta’s core business combines its seeds and crop protection strengths with bringing newly discovered actives to market, while Adama’s focus is its offer of unique mixtures and innovative formulations.

 “If you merged the two operations together, one and one wouldn’t make two,” Ms Bosher observed. “We will still compete very heavily with each other within the UK market. But Adama is in the process of divesting a sector of our portfolio to meet the regulator’s demands,” she said.  “This will be announced officially in the next week or so, but at the same time, we will also be getting some new products in over future months.”

While the two companies trade independently, the EU and US authorities are treating the latest ChemChina acquisition as a merger, because Syngenta and Adama have a common parent which means that there are areas of dominance in the market to be addressed. Adama will have to make divestments, expected to be in cereal PGRs, cereal fungicides, cereal insecticides and cereal graminicides.

Turning to the autumn 2016 crop protection market, Ms Bosher observed: “The size of the market was around £211 million, just for the autumn. It’s mainly for herbicides, and selective herbicides at that.” In cereals, for example, 88% of the market spend was on herbicides.

While Bayer is by far the biggest player with 27% of this market, she stressed the large number – around 300 – of companies in the ‘others’ category with a 21% market share.

“What we’re seeing is a massive proliferation of off patent flufenacet,” she continued.

“Autumn is all about blackgrass control,” and the power of flufenacet is astronomical.  It actually accounts for 63% of the selective herbicide market.

“For manufacturers it’s tricky,” she said.  “Farmers have a choice of all sorts of mixes. We are dealing an environment that is ever changing, and we are faced with rapidly developing resistance. At the same time, we have got ever-increasing regulatory issues as well.

“As a company, Adama is steering our way forward through stewardship,” she concluded. “Now is the time to act.  If we don’t, we simply won’t have the crop protection tools available anymore.”