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Global crop protection market rose 6% in 2018

Higher prevailing prices in China and alleviation of the inventory situation in Brazil led the global market for conventional crop protection products to grow by 6% to $57,561 million at the ex-manufacturer level in 2018.

The global market for conventional crop protection products grew by 6% to $57,561 million at the ex-manufacturer level in 2018, according to figures from Phillips McDougall. There was a real term rise of 4.9%, removing inflation and currency fluctuation impacts. Preliminary figures released in January pointed to a 4% increase in nominal terms to $56,500 million.

A detailed crop- and country-wise analysis of the 2018 market is available at the Phillips McDougall website.

Sales of all pesticides, including non-crop products, were 5.6% higher at $65,099 million. Non-crop pesticide sales grew by 3.1% to $7,538 million.

Last year, Phillips McDougall revised up estimates for crop protection and non-crop pesticide markets including for previous years, noting that national markets had been higher than previously stated, particularly for countries with a large generics sector, such as China and India.

Global agrochemical market ($ million)

Market segment


% change


Crop protection




Non-crop pesticides








Source: Phillips McDougall.

In 2018, the market benefited from higher prices of generic materials, particularly of glyphosate herbicide from China. That resulted from a Ministry of Environment crackdown on production requiring chemical companies to invest in costly pollution control and effluent treatment plants, Phillips McDougall says. Furthermore, the increasing number of Chinese companies listing on the national stock markets drove pressure to increase prices in order to boost profitability.

High inventory levels experienced in recent years, particularly in Brazil and western Europe, largely ended last year. Mitigating actions from major companies had a positive effect on stocks and hence the purchasing of crop protection products, the consultancy explains.

As for non-crop agrochemicals, the market grew in line with global GDP growth, which Phillips McDougall cites as the major driver for the sector. It anticipates further improvement in the sector as developing nation economies grow.

Crop protection market by category

Herbicides remained the dominant crop protection category globally, accounting for 42.7% of sales. That is slightly down on last year’s 42.9%, despite a 5.9% rise in segment sales to $24,608 million. Fungicides made up 28.4% of global sales, also slightly down on last year’s share. However, that came on a rise in sales of 4.7% to $16,319 million. Insecticide sales increased most strongly, adding 7.6% to $14,549 million. The category’s market share rose from 24.9% to over a quarter (25.3%).

Regional sales

The largest regional crop protection market was Asia Pacific. Sales rose by an estimated 7.2% to $17,489 million. The market benefited from increased generic product prices, a segment which has a particularly high market share in many Asian countries. Products for use on cotton in India were in notably higher demand due to infestations of pink bollworms (Pectinophora gossypiella). The Indonesian market continued to benefit from increased domestic crop prices due to an import ban on rice and maize, but it was somewhat offset by continued drought, which lowered pest pressure.

In Latin America, sales are estimated to have risen by 11.1% to $14,181 million. Growth came largely from Brazil, which benefited from reduced inventory levels driving product purchases and the higher product prices from China. The country remains the world’s largest country market for crop protection sales. The insecticide market has suffered from the rise in adoption of Bayer/Monsanto's genetically modified insect-resistant and glyphosate-tolerant Intacta RR2 Pro soybeans, but that is offset by the increased prices.

The European market was the only one to see sales slide. It fell by an estimated 3% to $12,001 million. The regional market split between strongly growing eastern Europe and a declining western half. Major declines are estimated for France, Germany and the UK where hot, dry weather in spring and summer reduced disease and pest pressure and lowered demand, especially for fungicides. In contrast, the market in Russia boomed because of strong wheat exports and EU sanctions. The Ukrainian market was skewed by high inflation, with the real terms market estimated to have fallen.

The North American market saw estimated growth of 8% at $11,623 million. Higher prices of generic products coming from China and the increased adoption of recently launched herbicide tolerance technologies drove growth. The latter included DowDuPont’s 2,4-D- and glyphosate- tolerant Enlist and Bayer/Monsanto’s dicamba-, glyphosate- and glufosinate-tolerant Xtend portfolio. They are driving business for more expensive active ingredients than glyphosate, which is facing resistance issues, and legal and regulatory concerns.

The Middle East and African market increased by an estimated 7.4% to $2,267 million.  Growth came largely in Middle Eastern markets, such as Turkey and Iran. That followed heavier rains after a severe drought driven by an El Niño weather event, boosting crop production expectations and increased demand for agrochemicals. Higher demand for crop protection products predominantly came from the fruit and vegetables sector, which are enjoying higher domestic and export business.

Crop protection product sales by region ($ million)



% change






Latin America2








North America




Middle East/Africa




Total (world)




1 calculated from 2018 growth/decline figure; 2 excluding Mexico. Source: Phillips McDougall.


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