Mar. 1, 2019
Nouryon (formerly AkzoNobel Specialty Chemicals), a global leader in specialty agrochemicals and chelated micronutrients, is focused on making ‘more with less’ happen. From crop protection to animal and plant nutrition, Nouryon is pushing the boundaries to help farmers feed the world using sustainable business practices that boost productivity and reduce unnecessary energy consumption. Simply put, Nouryon provides the essential chemistry to help farmers do more with less.
Recently, AgroPages had the opportunity to connect with AB Ghosh, Managing Director of Nouryon’s Surface Chemistry business. Originally from India, Mr. Ghosh began his career in the UK and has held 10 different positions in three countries over the course of 30 years with AkzoNobel, and now Nouryon. During that time, AB has witnessed multiple acquisitions and changes throughout the company with his global leadership roles in both the Specialty Chemicals and Performance Coatings business areas.
New Name, Same Industry Leader
In October 2018, AkzoNobel Specialty Chemicals relaunched as Nouryon following its acquisition by The Carlyle Group. It was a major milestone as the 400-year-old chemical company transformed into a 21st century brand that operates in more than 80 countries with 10,000 employees.
Nouryon is inspired by two of the company’s early pioneers: Jan Nourij and Gerrit van der Lande. They founded Noury & Van der Lande in 1838, one of the first companies to realize the potential that chemistry could play in everyday life.
Ghosh explained that the new name and brand identify was developed using extensive employee input and is based on internal pride that the company is still – 400 years later – a producer of essential chemicals that impact the world daily. It was important to employees to play off this rich history and heritage.
“While there may be a new name on the door, we’re still the same trusted partner,” said Ghosh. “Now as a stand-alone, focused chemicals company, we can execute our strategy of accelerating growth in our leading market positions, including agriculture, and continuing to build on our strong relationships with customers.”
Helping Farmers Do More with Less
“Nouryon has been serving the global agriculture industry for more than 50 years and is a major manufacturer of chelated micronutrients and specialty agrochemical solutions,” stated Ghosh. “Our commitment to the industry remains unchanged under new ownership.”
Nouryon sees micronutrient soil techniques as a crucial factor in the long-term sustainability of farming. In fact, the company recently invested €10 million to increase iron chelate production at its plant in Kvarntorp, Sweden, supplementing production at existing plants in the Netherlands and US, to meet the projected demands for such techniques.
How do Nouryon’s micronutrients work? A chelating agent called ethylene diamine tetra acetic acid allows iron — a generally insoluble compound — to dissolve in water and thus be absorbed by plants, eliminating the need for soil and enabling plants to thrive in fully aqueous, or hydroponic, cultures. When used in the form of micronutrient fertilizers, the same technique can offer a crucial boost for soil depleted of essential micronutrients such as iron, zinc, manganese and copper.
Meanwhile, Nouryon’s team of micronutrient experts and agronomists travel to the world’s most remote places to teach customers and other partners how to transform poor, depleted soil into rich, reusable land using micronutrients – chemicals plants need in order to grow.
Through advanced hydroponic and fertigation techniques and specialized micronutrient fertilizers, Nouryon’s products are making a vital difference for farmers around the world.
Nouryon is also a leading supplier of adjuvants to the industry. Adjuvants play an important part in increasing yield for farmers while decreasing cost and chemical use. During the spraying process of crop protection products, the loss can be substantial due to drift, bounce off, missing the target, wash off by rain or immobilization. Adsee? is Nouryon’s longtime product portfolio which contains a variety of solutions to address the loss issue.
Using an adjuvant can increase the biological efficacy of the active so the amount needed of the pesticides can be reduced. It ensures high efficacy and increases the yield. According to Ghosh, adjuvants will continue to be a top priority in Nouryon’s strategy in the market as it’s another sustainable way to increase efficiency and minimize loss.
Another passion and key strength of Nouryon’s are dispersants for the formulation industry. It’s Morwet? product portfolio has become the benchmark dispersant in the formulation industry due to its versatility and robustness.
The company recently collaborated with customers to release its new Agrilan product series, which helps meet increased regulatory demands without compromising performance. It allows farmers to mix several crop protection formulations, reducing time, energy cost and improving economy.
Ghosh noted that Nouryon plans to introduce several new products for the agrochemical industry in 2019 and 2020 that will give its customers new tools to overcome the evolving formulation challenges in this area.
Innovating Through Collaboration
The challenges facing the industry – the regulatory environment, land scarcity and weed resistance – are some of the key factors driving Nouryon’s innovation in this market.
“Given the current situation, and the severe cost pressure that crop protection producers and farmers are under, we’re increasing our efforts to provide innovative methods that help maximize resources and land,” explains Ghosh.
A large part of Nouryon’s innovation process is its close collaboration with key customers, distributors and farmers, which enables its sales, marketing and R&D teams to receive more direct feedback and learn about customers’ changing needs.
One example of this is through their agronomists, who work closely with leading fertilizer brands, as well as with distributors and experts worldwide, to provide valuable micronutrient training that can then be passed on to individual farmers. Another is its ongoing customer seminars, which provide an educational platform and opportunity to review current and new products.
Additionally, Nouryon believes there are many mutual benefits to forging partnerships with external stakeholders. Launched in 2017, its Imagine Chemistry program invites startups and academics from around the world to work with Nouryon as equal partners to bring their innovative ideas to market and find solutions to some of the most urgent challenges facing key industries, including agriculture, and the chemical industry overall.
Opportunities in China
Despite increasingly stringent environmental regulations towards the agriculture industry, Nouryon sees tremendous potential and opportunity in the Asia-Pacific market, especially China.
Ghosh noted that Nouryon welcomes the opportunity in China and is well positioned to address the region’s challenges. Over the years, the company has made considerable investments and operates its plants in China according to Western standards. Safety has always been a top priority for Nouryon, and in the long-term, the company feels it will be a competitive advantage.
Nouryon has experienced recent successes in the Chinese agrochemical and agriculture market, building their position as a valued solution provider and strategic business partner to many major Chinese pesticide manufacturers. A lot of this success is due to Nouryon’s efforts to introduce and promote more environmentally friendly solutions to pesticide and herbicide manufacturers, allowing them to provide safer, more sustainable solutions to their end-users.
“We’re now focused on accelerating our innovation speed to develop the specific products to match the needs of the Chinese agrochemical market,” stated Ghosh. “These innovations will also translate to the many needs of our global customer base.”
Committed to Future Growth with Customers
Looking ahead, Nouryon’s focus remains unchanged with the mentality that you can never be satisfied if you want to stay ahead of the market. The company believes that this competitive mindset will help drive the innovation critical to helping farmers do more with less.
“The key is to stay focused on customers and be flexible,” said Ghosh. “As a global company, we have the scalability and resources to adapt to new demands and needs. In the face of a changing market, we’ll continue to work with customers, suppliers and outside partners to develop sustainable products and solutions.”
AkzoNobel, now Nouryon, has long been an industry leader in sustainability and Ghosh made it clear that the company remains committed to sustainability going forward. Striving to do more with less, Nouryon is focused on resource efficiency and renewable resources, an area that customers continue to place importance.
With 400 years of history and expertise behind the company, Nouryon is making an impact within the global agriculture industry, driving it forward in the face of constantly-changing market conditions.
“We are proud to continue to serve this industry and be a partner in essential chemistry for a sustainable future,” concluded Ghosh.
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