Syngenta: The power of brands over generics
Mar. 13, 2018
- Post-patent generics may cost less, but offer less
- Syngenta brand promises service, research and experience
As growers finalize their decisions on which crop protection products to apply on their fields this season, return on investment is a key consideration. Choosing lower-priced generics is tempting for many, but knowing the reasons behind the cheaper price tag can help growers avoid costly disasters down the line.
Brand name manufacturers like Syngenta spend hundreds of millions of dollars and more than a decade of work developing each new active ingredient. Once that ingredient goes off patent, generic manufacturers often crowd the market with lower-priced alternatives. But those generics don’t always live up to the standards of their brand-name competitors.
“We have the manpower to put our products through the ringer,” said Matthew Cottle, group leader for herbicide formulation development at Syngenta. “We can produce the quality that people are expecting. In a post-patent world, quality is what sets us apart. We hang our hat on that.”
A slew of yield-killing issues can arise from using generics: poor mixtures, equipment breakdowns, pest infestations and crop injury, just to name a few. These issues may ultimately cost growers more in the long run, since they cannot match the quality and support of brand-name products.
Ed Sanders, an ag retailer in Charlestown, Indiana, said Syngenta products come with service far exceeding what a grower would ever get with a generic. In the spring of 2017, Sanders received a call from a customer who was battling a vicious outbreak of waterhemp, which is relatively new to southern Indiana. Sanders visited the farm, took photos of the problem weed and reached out his Syngenta rep.
“We came up with a solution right then and there,” said Sanders, who advised the grower to rework the ground and apply Dual II Magnum® herbicide. “With a generic, we wouldn’t necessarily have the ability to reach out for technical expertise.”
Aside from service, Syngenta products are backed by breakthrough formulation science. Cottle explained that although a grower can now walk into a local ag supply shop and buy a jug of generic mesotrione, unless that grower has a background in chemical engineering and a state-of-the-art formulation lab at his disposal, creating a generic that equals Acuron® herbicide or Halex® GT herbicide is impossible.
Generics can also be risky business for ag resellers, especially those who offer seed treatment services. Generic seed treatments often end up sticky, causing seeds to clump together or cling to the side of the treater drum. This may lead to poor in-field results for growers, and mechanical malfunctions and delays for resellers.
“Downtime caused by equipment issues means lost sales, because growers are not going to wait around,” said Ravi Ramachandran, Ph.D., head of the Syngenta Seedcare Institute in Stanton, Minnesota. “Our products are of high quality and work without operational disruption. Every drop of our products delivers the correct dose of treatment on the seed.”
Ramachandran’s team in Stanton also offers hands-on training to resellers and others who apply seed treatments. “We have a very strong pipeline of technology, backed by the best scientists, chemists and engineers in the industry,” he said. “But creating top-tier products also means working outside the laboratory. Collaborating with our reseller partners helps ensure that growers and their crops are set up for success.”