Fruit, vegetable segment growing: World economics, new diets bode well for specialty crops

It is a good year economically for the U.S. when 2 million to 2.5 million jobs are created. To keep China's economy growing, 25 million new jobs must be created annually.

This staggering number is equivalent to the population of the four largest cities in the U.S., according to Bob Magee of Memphis, Tenn., specialty products manager for DuPont Crop Protection speaking to group of independent California Pest Control Advisers (PCAs) at a technology transfer seminar in Carmel, Calif.. recently.

And the situation is not much different for India, the other country often mentioned in the same breath when there is talk of California's future international markets for its specialty crops.

With the millions of new jobs in India and China comes improved diets and potentially huge new markets for fruits, vegetables and nuts produced in California as the Asian masses move away from a basic starch diet to a diet of high quality, high value crops.

The expanding new Asian markets will be accompanied by continued growth for California specialty ag products in the traditional world markets like Canada and Mexico, the EU and Japan as well as growing South American markets of Argentina and Brazil.

“These rising income levels are good for you as California crop consultants and as customers of DuPont,” Magee said.

However, the future is not without pitfalls, specifically any kind of supply interruption into these new markets. He mentioned specifically rising energy costs and the cost and availability of metals affecting marketing to these countries.

This growing population not only wants to eat better, it wants to know more and communicate more efficiently. This means they will be buying computers and cell phones, create more demand for metals, like copper, which is a key component in one of DuPont's mostly widely marketed products, Kocide.

Just as world consumer dynamics are changing, so is the ag chem industry. There are only a few major players left. However, Magee predicts consolidation will continue. “Technology is driving these changes,” he said.

Production emphasis

DuPont, with $2.2 billion in sales ranks fourth in the $30 billion world crop protection industry, is making significant changes away from herbicides to a bigger percentage of fungicides and insecticides to meet the demand in the growing fruit, vegetable and vine business.

Magee says DuPont believes there is some growth potential in the cotton and soybean markets, however, cereal grain and cotton markets will remain basically flat. Fruit and vegetable crops are the growing segment of agriculture.

To move quickly into the fungicide market, DuPont has acquired worldwide rights to Syngenta's strobilurin fungicide picoxystrobin, sold as Acanto which is currently marketed in Europe on cereals and will be expanded for use on soybeans in Latin America. Magee said DuPont plans a U.S. launch of this fungicide in 2010.

DuPont is developing a new insecticide product, Rynaxypyr, a bisamide class insecticide used to control lepidopteran pests.

Magee said this new family of insecticides is on an EPA registration fast track due to its low toxicity to beneficial insects; its long residual, and activity on pests resistant to other pesticides.

Magee said DuPont expects registration for this new insecticide on a group of crops, including vegetables, fruits and nuts, in a global launch in 2008.

In the biotechnology realm, Magee said DuPont is working on seed traits that will reduce herbicide rates as well as a new nematicide and a new broad spectrum herbicide. DuPont also is developing more active copper compounds with less copper content, added Magee.

e-mail: [email protected]

Hide comments


  • Allowed HTML tags: <em> <strong> <blockquote> <br> <p>

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.