Pesticides: the new Chinese hegemony

They are mastodons, like the global agrochemical sector had never seen before: in just twenty years, Chinese pesticide manufacturers have managed to dominate this market, estimated at $ 61 billion in 2020 ($ 54 billion euros), realizing more than 40% of its value.

A French group of experts is alerting to this development, on which the future of human food depends: the Societal Analysis Office for Citizen Information (Basic, a research office) has carried out, on behalf of Pollinis, which fights against the extinction of bees, and of the Catholic Committee against Hunger and for Development (CCFD-Terre solidaire), a survey published on Tuesday, November 30, which sheds new light on the sector. Thousands of economic and financial data have been searched in order to paint the overall picture of the value creation of the pesticides sector.

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“In twenty years, China has grown exponentially on the international market, producing nearly half of the 4 million tonnes of pesticides produced each year in the world”, summarizes Christophe Alliot, co-founder of Basic, knowing that volumes alone cannot describe the market, because it develops effective substances at increasingly low doses. “By multiplying by eleven the value of its sales, China acquired the position of first exporter in 2018, with 5.2 billion dollars, passing in front of Germany. “ Drawing a new geopolitics, Chinese exports are destined, in order, to Brazil, Thailand and the United States. Next come Australia, Nigeria, Indonesia and Vietnam.

Global agrochemicals have experienced an unprecedented movement of concentration. Proof of this is that in 2020, four heavyweights dominated: Bayer-Monsanto, Syngenta, Corteva and BASF

India has also emerged, multiplying by fourteen its exports of low-cost plant protection products between 2000 and 2020. This shift in production to Asia has worried the European Commission for several years. “The majority of active substances contained in plant protection products marketed in the EU [Union européenne] are made abroad. Increasingly, product formulation is also moving to non-European countries ”, she reported in 2017.

Lack of transparency

Global agrochemicals have simultaneously experienced an unprecedented movement of concentration. Proof of this is that in 2020, four heavyweights dominated: Bayer-Monsanto, Syngenta, Corteva and BASF. Among these so-called “integrated” players, because they master the entire value chain, from research and development to product distribution, the German Bayer won over the French CropScience in 2008, then Monsanto in 2018. For their part, the Americans Dow Chemical and DuPont merged to create Corteva in 2019.

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