According to a report by Le Monde on November 30, this is something the global agrochemical industry has never seen before: In just 20 years, Chinese pesticide manufacturers have managed to dominate the global market (estimated at $61 billion in 2020), and their market share has exceeded 40 percent.
The pesticide industry has been combed and revealed in an unprecedented survey published on November 30 by The French research institute Civics Analytics.
"In 20 years, China has continued to take a rapid leap forward in the international market." Concludes Christopher Allio, co-founder of Citizens Information Society Analytics. But yield alone doesn't give an accurate picture of the market, because the trend is for pesticides to be effective in smaller and smaller doses. "However, China's pesticide exports have increased tenfold, overtaking Germany to become the world's largest pesticide exporter in 2018." This is a new geographical pattern, with China's pesticide exports going mainly to Brazil, Thailand and the United States, followed by Australia, Nigeria, Indonesia and Vietnam.
At the same time, the global agrochemical industry is becoming more concentrated than ever.
According to the report, established big companies, mainly Germany and China, accounted for 78 percent of global pesticide sales in 2014, but that fell to 67 percent in 2017, according to data just released by citizens Information Society Analytics. The future may not be easy for them.
The market share of patented pesticides fell by half over the same period, while the share of non-patented pesticides rose to 70 percent from 30 percent in 2000, the report said. These generic pesticides cost less than a third of the price of patented pesticides.
What's new, the report says, is that China dominates the market for generic pesticides. Seven of the top 10 generic pesticide producers are Chinese.
China's hunger is already evident in high-tech products that could be used in sustainable and precision agriculture in the future, the report said.
Sebastian Abbey, an expert on agricultural geopolitics, said: "China's domestic sources of arable land have stagnated and people are still demanding better food quality. To achieve food independence, China will have to bet on science and technology, increase grain yield per unit and focus on precision agriculture."
By buying Syngenta China, Mr Allio believes it can "touch the heart of Europe", with its patents for precision agriculture, seeds and genetic engineering. "This is part of a broader political strategy by the Chinese government," citizens Information Society analysis explained in its report. China spends twice as much as the US every year on agriculture-related RESEARCH and development."