Argentina's Don Mario enters US seed market
Jul. 11, 2016
After several years of preparation, Argentinean seed company Don Mario has started to sell soybean seeds in the United States, the most important market in the world for this business, where it faces competition from Monsanto, Dow, DuPont and Syngenta, earning over US$2 billion in revenue.
Don Mario, which is headquartered in Chacabuco, a province of Buenos Aires, is sending seeds to 10 North American companies that have signed agreements with it. After years of testing in over 20 municipalities in the United States, these companies, licensed by the Argentinean company, have started to receive seeds that they will multiply in time for planting in the United States in the next season. At this stage, the direct sales to farmers will be made by these licensed companies, not Don Mario.
Don Mario is among the major players in the Argentinean market for soybeans and in the Mercosur bloc. Some 30% of the seeds of this crop are planted in the Mercosur bloc. It holds a strong position, with operations in Brazil.
According to Gerardo Bartolomé, president of the company, sales to the U.S. market are expected to reach 100,000 bags of seeds. This volume is low compared to the large size of this market, where 34 million hectares of farmland are utilized, but it is a sign of success after several years of experimentation.
"This year, we have started to sell what is called a basic seed, and this is a milestone. This is the start of our license period with these companies, which will multiply the seeds now to offer them to North American producers in the 2017 season,” the company president said.
The seeds of the company will be spread across the southern states of the Corn Belt in the United States, which produce some 30% of the soybeans in the country. From here, the company intends to quickly expand to other major regions.
While the seeds are currently being multiplied to get them in the hands of US farmers in the next season, the company is preparing for the next phase. Once the first stage of the license agreement is complete, the company aims to sell its own brands directly in the US market.
In the meantime, in Argentina, the company is investing US$1 million in a soybean seed processing unit in Charata, Chaco, which will include a cold chamber and staff to cool the seeds. “We want to offer better quality,” Bartolomé noted.
The company president was optimistic about the sector: “There is optimism over the end of export taxes and bureaucratic exports; commodities jumped and this generated profitability.”