Grupo Agrotecnología ( Iberfol SL) is a company dedicated to agro-technology research , development, manufacture and marketing of products for the protection and nutrition of agricultural crops respectful to the environment. Recently, Enrique Riquelme, CEO of Grupo Agrotectnología has received interview with AgroPages to introduce his company and the view for the biological industry.
Enrique Riquelme, CEO of Grupo Agrotectnología
Could you please talk a bit about your company, Grupo Agrotecnología’s work with local and multinational companies, and how you got started?
Grupo Agrotecnología was established in Spain in 1997. Its core business consisted in the reproduction of, technical support for and sale of auxiliary insects. Ever since then, Agrotecnología’s goal has been “Zero Residue”.
At the beginning, a serious problem affected organic agriculture: none of the pesticides on the market respected auxiliary insects. So Agrotecnología reacted by developing an initial organic line, based on the following: biocontrol products to preserve auxiliary insects, and biostimulants and biofertilizers to increase the natural defenses of plants. With this experience, Grupo Agrotecnología has gained considerable know-how on managing the ecosystem of plants.
Today, Grupo Agrotecnología is an established reality engaged in the research, development, manufacturing and marketing of environmentally friendly products for the protection and nutrition of crops. Grupo Agrotecnología is now a multinational group whose main headquarters is located in Orihuela (Alicante, Spain), with subsidiaries in Chile, Mexico and Peru and sales in 30 countries. It has a highly specialised staff formed by 50 employees.
Could you please introduce Grupo Agrotecnología’s key biologicals-based products in its portfolio and key markets?
The two great challenges posed for global agriculture are 1) simultaneously providing plants with effective and sustainable protection and 2) increasing the yield and quality of crops. In this regard, Grupo Agrotecnología offers its key line of products: biostimulants and biopesticides. In both market segments, Grupo Agrotecnología offers a very broad spectrum of biological and organic products, which provide a complete response to the main needs of global agricultural markets. These biological tools are proving to be especially successful in the area of ecological and integrated agriculture.
The biostimulants market is a clearly expanding sector, given that the forecast annual growth rate for the upcoming years is 22%. The same thing happens with the biopesticides market, with an expected growth rate of 35% globally.
Grupo Agrotecnología is currently present in 30 countries. Europe is a strong market for the company, especially southern Europe. Regarding the current key markets of Grupo Agrotecnología, a decade ago it ventured on the Latin American market. In fact, this market represents a large part of the company's total sales volume. It even has three subsidiaries in the region: one is in Mexico to handle the northern and central American markets, plus one subsidiary in Chile and another in Peru to handle the remainder of Latin America.
How do you think about the high consolidation and fierce competition in today’s agricultural inputs market?
There is certainly a very high level of competition, as in many markets. In this case, there is a shift from the old inputs to others that are more adapted to the new reality. The market for plant protection against biotic/abiotic stress is currently affected by serious issues. They include a reduction of the number of useful active ingredients, an increase in pathogen resistance to agrochemicals, an increase in water-soil pollution and extreme conditions due to climate change, the need to improve food quality and an increase in requests for “Zero Residue”. Current products are not able to properly tackle these issues. The market needs an answer.
Nevertheless, today’s market offers many organic products for handling biotic/abiotic stress and for NUE (Nutrient Use Efficiency), but there is a general problem of efficacy. Thanks to innovative technology, Grupo Agrotecnología has created a new generation of much more efficient products. Today we are able to offer a full range of organic products to the market: biopesticides, biostimulants and biofertilizers that represent a major advance towards a sustainable future.
What growth plans would you like to share for your company’s future? Any up-and-coming markets?
Last year Grupo Agrotecnología’s total revenue amounted to 10.5 million euros, and this year we expect to reach a total revenue of 14 million euros. Our main Biocontrol markets for expanding are in North America, the EU and Latin America, which represent 82% of the global market. For this market segment, growth of 40% is expected for 2016-2020.
At this time, we have designed a commercial development plan for 2021 in these markets, both commercially and regarding the registration of biopesticides. We expect that this will mean the launch of the company globally. Our differentiation is based on research, operational agility and our vision of future market niches. For 2021, we forecast reaching a total turnover of 40 million euros, which means quadrupling our current size. In five years, the international business has gone from 10% to 55%, and the objective is to reach 80% by the end of the strategic plan in 2021.
The next markets that we are planning to tackle are Brazil and the US, two of the main global markets. Regarding the company's expansion in the US, the company already has products registered for commercialization.
I know Grupo Agrotecnología also provide biopesticides. As more major multinationals have entered the biopesticides arena in recent years, how much more consolidation do you believe the industry will see?And how does this effect Grupo Agrotecnología’s business?
Grupo Agrotecnología has been venturing on biopesticides and has been fine-tuning its products for 15 years, and it has finally obtained a product with the same efficacy as that of a chemical product, something that hasn't been offered by the market up to now. There are biopesticides on the market, but their effectiveness is unacceptable. Moreover, we have a wide range of biopesticide products in the process of being registered globally. We think that the quality of our product is better than that of the large companies that dominate the sector, which are now beginning to adapt to this game. When you have the best product, it's possible to set up very interesting alliances that help you to introduce your products and consolidate them in the market.
The market is dominated globally by multinationals, and their strength is currently based on controlling the registration and sale of conventional phytosanitary products. It’s true that they’ve been changing their rhetoric and have been redirecting their strategies towards products with low impact and low residue. Our advantage is that we’ve been researching and developing products in this market segment for 15 years, while the market was looking the other way. This about-face by agriculture is putting us at a certain competitive advantage.
The demand for these products is precisely what gives meaning to companies such as Grupo Agrotecnología and the products it develops. Grupo Agrotecnología has been venturing on more responsible and sustainable agriculture for 20 years, so it has been ahead of its time and is a pioneer. Today, the global demand for foods from sustainable agriculture is a growing and unstoppable reality that is going to position companies like Grupo Agrotecnología at the global level.