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Global GM seed market at $22 billion in 2018

The global GM seed market in 2018 was valued at $21,970 million, according to Phillips McDougall's seed service report prepared by senior analyst Yuanjie Su.

The global commercially traded crop seed market increased by 1.3% in 2018 to reach $41,670 million at the distributor level, according to figures from Phillips McDougall. The market calculations exclude seed that has been farmer saved or seed for the pasture, flower and home and garden vegetable seed markets.

A detailed analysis, including crop-wise break up, regional developments, and traits in research, is available in Phillips McDougall's Seed Service.

The value of the GM seed industry slipped by 1.1% to $21,970 million. GM seeds accounted for 52.7% of total seed market. The growth in the global seeds market came from conventional seeds, which increased by 4.2% to $19,700 million.

Global seed market

Category

2017 ($ million)

% change

2018 ($ million)

GM seeds

22,206

-1.1

21,970

Conventional seeds

18,912

+4.2

19,700

Total

41,119

+1.3

41,670

Source: Phillips McDougall.

Stacked-trait seeds made up the largest proportion of the global market, accounting for 59% with sales of $12,968 billion.

Herbicide-tolerant crops followed with sales of $7,965 million, making up 36.3% of the market. Insect-resistant crops accounted for 4.7% of the market with sales of $1,037 million.

Global acreage

Globally, the greatest area for a crop sown with GM seeds was for soybeans. The acreage for the crop increased by 1.1% to 94.6 million ha. Over a five-year period from 2013-18, acreage for the crop grew at a compounded annual growth (CAGR) rate of 2.6%.

Maize was the second-largest crop in terms of global area sown with GM seeds. The area under the crop, however, declined by 3.5% to 57.9 million ha. The five-year CAGR for the crop was almost flat at 0.1%. Despite trailing soybeans in terms of acreage, maize seeds led in value, accounting for 53.5% of the global GM seed market. Soybeans made up just over a third (34.2%).

Cotton was planted on 24.9 million ha. The area slipped by 0.4%. The CAGR for the crop was 1.1%. Cotton accounted for 7.5% of the global GM seed market by value.

The oilseed rape area went down by 2% but the crop had the highest five-year CAGR of 4.6%.

The area under sugar beet had the highest annual growth of 50%.

Major GM crop global acreage (million ha)

Crop

2017

% change

2018

% CAGR1 2018/13

Soybeans

93.6

+1.1

94.6

2.6

Maize

60.0

-3.5

57.9

0.1

Cotton

25.0

-0.4

24.9

1.1

Oilseed rape

10.2

-2.0

10.0

4.6

Sugar beet

0.4

+50.0

0.6

3.7

1 compounded annual growth rate. Source: Phillips McDougall.

The four major crops of soybeans, maize, cotton and oilseed rape accounted for 99% of the global GM crop area. Over 75% of soybeans sown globally were under GM crops. The proportion for maize is 30.3%. Cotton led in GM crop penetration with 77.6% of the area under the crop being planted with GM seeds. The proportion for oilseed rape was 27.3%.

Penetration of major GM crops such as maize and soybeans plateaued over the five years to 2018. Oilseed rape grew strongly over the five years at over 4% annual growth, although 2018 was its first drop after the 2017 peak. Cotton recovered from a recent low and had grown strongly two years in a row, mainly due to the new traits introduced to the market.

Major crop GM seed penetration (%)

Crop

2017

% change

2018

% CAGR1 2018/13

Soybeans

75.4

+0.1

75.5

0.5

Maize

31.3

-3.1

30.3

-0.2

Cotton

74.4

+4.3

77.6

1.4

Oilseed rape

28.3

-3.3

27.3

4.2

1 compounded annual growth rate. Source: Phillips McDougall.

The US led in GM crop plantings despite the area under GM crops having fallen by 3.8% to 73.9 million ha. Brazil experienced an increase of 1.9% in area and remained the second-largest country globally at 49 million ha. Argentina recorded the highest increase in any country. The area under GM crops in the country rose by 13.2% to 24.9 million ha. Canada and India came in next, although both witnessed declines in the area under GM crops. China was the only other country with a sizeable area under GM crops to have recorded an increase.

GM crop areas by country/region (million ha)

Country/Region

2017

% change

2018

US

76.8

-3.8

73.9

Brazil

48.1

+1.9

49.0

Argentina

22.0

+13.2

24.9

Rest of Latin America

5.9

+3.4

6.1

Canada

13.4

-9.0

12.2

India

11.9

-5.0

11.3

China

3.3

+3.0

3.4

Rest of Asia

4.5

-13.3

3.9

South Africa

3.7

-16.2

3.1

Europe, Middle East & Africa

0.4

-25.0

0.3

Total

190

-1.1

188

Source: Phillips McDougall.

Outlook

The global land area available for agricultural use is trending down due to the population growth and other usage, Phillips McDougall says. However, GM seed penetration continues. The consultancy points out that the number of countries permitting the cultivation of GM crops has remained static at around 25-30 over the last few years. However, there are still a lot of countries in Africa that are testing GM crops, which can be where the growth will be achieved. However, the opposition to GM technology in the EU remains entrenched. Globally, the increased adoption of hybrid seed and professionally grown varieties has helped to increase the overall seed market but the depressed commodity prices in recent years have dragged on the growth rate of the seed market.

A more detailed analysis, including crop-wise break up, regional developments, key M&A events and traits in research, is available in Phillips McDougall's Seed Service.
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