Bayer CropScience aims to further expand its business in Latin America, and announced two new initiatives targeted at extending its soybean business in Brazil.
Bayer CropScience CEO Liam Condon underlined the company’s strong commitment to the farming community and the company’s employee base in the region during his first official visit to Latin America, following his appointment in December 2012. "Latin America is a strategic region for us, and we are positioning ourselves for strong growth in this market," Condon said on Wednesday in São Paulo. "We expect a positive development and further expansion in 2013 for Latin America."
Last year, Bayer CropScience recorded sales of more than EUR 2.1 billion in the Latin America/Africa/Middle East region, an increase of about 15 percent compared to the previous year. Growth was particularly strong in Brazil and Argentina where Bayer CropScience posted a sales increase of about 20 percent. Brazil is the second largest individual market worldwide for the company after the USA, and the broader Latin America/Africa/Middle East region accounts for about a quarter of the global Bayer CropScience sales of approx. EUR 8.4 billion.
New collaborations and acquisitions in soybeans and wheat
The company has stepped up its presence in two strategic crops soy and wheat. "Today we can announce two steps to bolster our soybean business: First we acquired the soy germplasm bank from Melhoramento Agropastoril Ltda., a firm operating in Cascavel in the Brazilian State of Paraná. Secondly we have signed an agreement to acquire the soybean seed company Wehrtec and the soy business of Agricola Wehrmann, both headquartered in Cristalina, Goiás, Brazil, centered in an important soybean area," said Condon. These steps will enable Bayer CropScience to enhance its research and breeding of soybean varieties tailored to meet the demands and needs of soybean farmers in the country. Financial details of the transactions were not disclosed. These steps complement the acquisition of the company SoyTech in the State of Goiás in 2011.
Two days ago, Bayer CropScience has also published the extension of its collaboration with the Brazilian wheat breeding company Biotrigo, based in Passo Fundo in the region Rio Grande do Sul in southern Brazil.
"These initiatives underline the strategic role of Brazil in our growth ambitions," said Condon. "We are developing a unique global platform for wheat to offer farmers tailor-made varieties with improved yields and other sought-after characteristics," the Bayer CropScience CEO said. He added: "Given the importance of soybeans for agriculture in Latin America, we are building up a soybean seed business in the region to offer our customers the latest developments from our soybean trait pipeline in highly competitive local varieties."
Driving a "New Agricultural Revolution"
Condon stressed the need for a "New Agricultural Revolution" - a productivity increase in agriculture that is more sustainable and environmentally-compatible. "We need real integrated solutions - not only a good fit between seeds, biologics and chemicals, but also a good integration of these solutions in the specific agricultural environment and society", Condon explained. This applies especially to Latin America, where agriculture has changed more rapidly than anywhere else in past decades. "We are fully aware of problems like growing weed-resistance - and we want to tackle them in close collaboration with everyone involved," said Condon.
Investing for growth in Brazil
Marc Reichardt, Head of Bayer CropScience’s operations in Latin America, stressed the positive outlook for the region: "We are continuously creating jobs focusing on Marketing and Sales and also on the expansion of our Seeds business." In Brazil alone, Bayer CropScience has increased the number of full-time-jobs by about 20 percent last year and is planning a similar increase this year. "Our long-lasting investments in Brazil, e.g. in high-tech machinery for seed treatment, will continue to grow. In 2013, we will invest almost three times as much compared to just three years before," said Reichardt: "As a global agricultural powerhouse, Brazil’s agro-economy has a key role in helping ensure world food supply. Through our continued investments in innovation and our strong partnerships in the country, Bayer CropScience continues to strongly support the Brazilian farming community."