In an era of lower commodity prices and tighter margins, growers are looking for ways to cut costs. But Syngenta wants farmers and those providing products to them to consider the value branded products offer when considering generic alternatives.
Research and development is one area where this value is reflected, said Jamie Eichorn, head of technical services at Syngenta. It can take more than 10 years and $100 million to bring a branded product to market. Each year, Syngenta invests almost $1.4 billion in research and development and employs nearly 5,000 scientists around the globe to provide new, improved technologies for growers. In 2016 alone, Syngenta will bring 16 new products to the U.S. marketplace.
Active ingredients aren’t the only components that can affect a crop input’s performance, noted Tim Danberry, an agronomist with Crystal Valley Co-op in Janesville, Minn. Inert ingredients and other co-formulants are also important.
“The biggest risk with a generic is that you have no clue what inactive ingredients the product contains,” said Danberry “That means you have no idea what you’re actually putting on your fields.”
Sometimes generic products also require users to measure and mix additional products, but branded crop protection products offer complete solutions in one container quite often.
“Growers like simple and easy,” Danberry said. “Generics aren’t always easy, and they can create too much room for error. I like Syngenta because all the work has been done for you, plus you don’t have to worry about compatibility issues.”
Unlike generics, branded products have strong networks of support standing behind them. For example, Syngenta has local sales representatives, field agronomists and a knowledgeable technical support team to work with growers when they need help and advice.
“If you need help with a Syngenta product right away, you’ve got a whole support system to help,” said Robert Templeton, a sales consultant with Crop Production Services in Sikeston, Mo. “With generics, you’re on your own.”
Additionally, branded product suppliers offer careful forecasting and extensive distribution networks to make sure the right product gets to the right place at the right time. This proven reliability is more important than ever, considering that the whole U.S. corn and soybean crop can be planted in 10 to 14 days, weather permitting.
The value of branded products makes good sense from a return-on-investment perspective, according to Templeton. “Saving on the front end can easily cost you more in the long run,” he said. “This is a clear benefit that branded products provide over generics, and it’s not easily matched.”