Dow AgroSciences is all about growth -- crop growth to be exact. The Dow Chemical subsidiary operates as part of its parent's Agricultural Sciences operating segment, developing crop protection products, such as insecticides, herbicides, fungicides, and fumigants for agricultural, industrial, and commercial pest control. Its seed technology business called Seeds, Traits, & Oils develops genetically modified (GM), resilient seeds and healthy oils like canola. With a broad and balanced product portfolio, other offerings include vegetation management and turf products. Its AgroFresh unit makes products to keep fruits, vegetables, and flowers fresh.
Dow AgroSciences serves customers in North America, Europe, Middle East & Africa (EMEA), Latin America, and Asia. The company generates sales in more than 130 countries worldwide and has an expanding number of global R&D and manufacturing sites.
Dow Chemical's Agricultural Sciences operating segment, of which Dow AgroSciences is a part, saw sales reach a record $5.7 billion in fiscal 2011, up 16% from nearly $4.9 million in 2010, thanks to both volume and price increases. Sales were strong in all geographic areas, but particularly in Latin America, which had a 22% jump in volume and 9% in price. The company's 2010 launch of its SmartStax insect control technology helped drive the Seeds, Traits, & Oils unit to increase 27% in volume over the previous year. In 2011 the Agricultural Chemicals unit also got a boost from new products and reported an 18% increase in volume growth. The AgroFresh unit reported double-digit volume growth in all geographic areas that year.
The company expects 2012 sales to move beyond its 2011 levels. It expects global demand to remain strong for agricultural products and crop commodity prices to remain favorable. It also predicts to see strong sales from SmartStax as corn sales in the Americas continues to be strong.
At Dow AgroSciences, R&D is king. It has approximately 1,800 researchers working in more than 40 countries worldwide. It conducts its own research, as well as research in conjunction with universities, government-sponsored research institutes, and private companies around the globe. Collaborations enable it to bring new agricultural products and technologies to market. Its R&D programs are specifically focused on developing crop protection chemicals, plant genetics, and newer platforms like healthy oils.
One of Dow AgroSciences' major initiatives is to commercialize its Enlist Weed Control System, which cultivates herbicide tolerance in crops like corn and soybeans. Enlist is a next-generation system that is seen as a replacement for global seed leader Monsanto's Roundup Ready, which is widely used by farmers on their crops but over time has begun to show signs of weakness as weeds have grown resistant to the herbicide. Dow AgroSciences is awaiting regulatory approvals on all components of the Enlist system in the US, Canada, Argentina, and Brazil. Once gained, the company expects to launch Enlist in corn in Canada and the US in 2013. Certain scientists, meanwhile, contend that Enlist itself may unleash a next generation of superweeds such as Roundup Ready did. This could cause farmers to react by using even higher doses of the herbicide and result in potentially harmful ecological repercussions.
As with several of its competitors, including Monsanto, Dow AgroSciences often uses technology collaborations to push new product development and launches. In early 2012, for instance, it announced a three-year, multi-program research agreement with BioDuro, a unit of Pharmaceutical Product Development, to discover novel molecules for crop protection.
Mergers & Acquisitions
In 2012 it bought California-based Cal/West Seeds, a supplier of alfalfa, clover, and other crops to seed companies and growers in the the US, Canada, and abroad. With a strong genetics program, Cal/West complements the Dairyland Seeds alfalfa business and research programs to make Dow AgroSciences' forages business one of the largest in the industry. Dairyland Seeds was acquired in 2008.
In 2011 Dow AgroSciences acquired the Prairie Brand Seed brand and its marketing assets from Iowa-based Sansgaard Seed Farms. Dow AgroSciences operates the company as a subsidiary and independently markets corn and soybean seed under the Prairie Brand. Also in 2011 the company expanded its wheat portfolio with the acquisition of Washington state-based Northwest Plant Breeding Company. – less