Nov. 14, 2014
In this edition of International Pest Control focuses the focus is Biocontrol. It seemed appropriate that my interview should assist readers to understand more about the industry and the major international organisation at its heart; the International Biocontrol Manufacturers’ Association (IBMA). Its Executive Director is David Cary who is just as well known within the industry for his previous roles in commercial companies as well as his leadership over the last few years of the IBMA. I caught up with David recently and asked him a few questions:
The term Biocontrol is very much a European phrase, but can you outline the scope of this market. What do you consider within Biocontrol and where do you think the line drawn on pesticides, if there is indeed a line?
Biocontrol is the term we prefer to use because of its all-embracing nature. It covers microbial products, natural products including botanicals, pheromones which don’t kill anything and invertebrate biocontrol agents. As our industry innovates, we need to be careful not to box ourselves in with too tight a definition, as there will be areas of overlap such as the new “biosimilars”.
Executive Director of the IBMA
So given this wide scope how large do you consider the market, what is this figure as a rough percentage of all control methods chemical and biocontrol and what is the dynamic? From our own work within the Chinese biocontrol industry we recognise the market is in dynamic growth there, but just how fast is it growing worldwide and are there any particular countries or regions where the dynamic is at its greatest?
The most commonly quoted figure is that Biocontrol products represents around 3% of the total industry. The change has been rapid over 10 years with the annual growth of biocontrol market being around 2.5 times that of the conventional products market. In the last few years it has been as much as at 5 times. This momentum was all prior to the significant recent investment in this market by the major international agrochemical companies such as Bayer, BASF and Syngenta. With their level of commitment we expect this should increase further and faster. The interesting thing is this trend appears to be global. USA was well ahead for many years, Europe is strongly catching up but the significant recent growth has been in Latin America and Asia. Brazil in particular is growing at a rapid pace.
From your information, it is clear the market is growing rapidly, it has a global reach and is represented by a wide range of companies, large and small. Where does the IBMA fit into the market? What do you see its role?
Rob an interesting question! As an organization, IBMA have held several key discussions about this. Firstly see ourselves representing a diverse industry where there is room for companies of all sizes with over 90% of our members considered SMEs. They all have a place to play in the market and it is certainly a priority of IBMA to ensure that the hurdles and barriers are not too great for small or indeed start-up companies. IBMA are charged with 2 missions: One is to represent the industry and the other is to ensure that we have a regulatory system that is proportionate to the risk that the members’ products pose. In both areas we have made significant inroads but have a long way to go!
On your website you state “IBMA actively seeks to form a global federation of likeminded regional organisations”. For many years I have worked to foster a similar approach within the urban pest management industry and understand well the challenges. How do you see IBMA taking leadership in this? What is it that the membership, like ourselves, can do to help you in achieving something that I am sure will have lasting benefit to the industry.
One of our short-term goals is to move into beyond-agricultural markets and though we may be slightly behind target it remains a key item for us to establish a working party to make this a reality in 2014-15. Several of our members have a strong and growing interest beyond agriculture! We also live in a global market and what happens in Europe both affects and is affected by activities in other regions. We do not have the resources to be active in other areas and we do not see the need to compete with other like-minded associations especially when much more could be achieved by working together. We have some things to learn from your industry particularly when you look at provision of services rather than products.
Finally David where do you see the future of the Biocontrol industry?
I am basically an idealist and I see that whether in agriculture, pest control or other markets in 10 or 20 years we will not be looking at the pest and disease problems we have now, but how do we make bread, chocolates, grow grapes for wine or to eat ensuring this happens in the most acceptable and sustainable way. The focus will be on making sure we improve our environment and health. It is a holistic way of approaching this and will still be having inputs from the pest management and biocontrol industries but with a different set of declared goals and a fresh starting point.
A Challenging future indeed! Thank you David for the insight into the industry and the role of IBMA. Along with the other articles within this edition, I am sure we have given the readers of International Pest Control a much greater understanding of the biocontrol industry and its scope for the future. I assume that you can be contacted through the office, naturally based in Brussels! The details of which are on the organisation website www.ibma-global.org