Jun. 23, 2020
Since 2017, Mindleader has implemented its capital increase in Pilarquim and it is now three years since the two companies launched consolidated operations.
As guided by the “product differentiation strategy” put forward by Mr. Mu Canxian, the chairman of both Mindleader and Pilarquim, Mindleader's domestic innovative products and the quality advantages have gradually formed a synergy in association with Pilarquim's overseas market development capability.
Over the past three years, Mindleader's premium formulation products, including the unique microcapsule suspension product series, have successfully landed in overseas markets and have become very popular. At the same time, the brand value of Pilarquim has been further enhanced. In the process of getting closer to the market via innovative approaches to the perfection of quality and service, Chairman Mu has provided a clearer positioning of the Pilarquim brand.
Today, three years later, with respect to Pilarquim’s formulation innovation, market operation experience and the future technical reserve, AgroPages has had the opportunity again of speaking with Chairman Mu to track the development path of Mindleader/Pilarquim towards the goal of becoming “China's leading independent innovative formulation brand".
Mr. Mu Canxian, the chairman of Mindleader and Pilarquim
AgroPages: Can you tell us about Pilarquim and Mindleader’s brand/corporate integration? After reshaping, how is Pilarquim's brand positioned today?
Mu Canxian: Mindleader and Pilarquim were merged on January 1, 2017, which is an integration of the respective market resource and business strength, where Mindleader runs the Chinese domestic market while Pilarquim focuses on the international market. Through brand integration, the domestic market and international market have been brought together. However, it takes time to combine the two brands into one, for which certain time is required for cultural blending. This is the basis of the success of mergers and acquisitions. From 2017, Mindleader has made full use of Pilarquim's global market advantages: Pilarquim’s 40-year global operations; dozens of long-term business partners in more than 30 countries; and the good reputation in the minds of users - "always a good quality product of Pilarquim”. Additionally, coupled with Mindleader’s excellent innovation capability and supply chain integration ability in China, as well as the service system that creates value for users through service, the Pilar-based core brand concept is established, which is represented by the words: Professional, Innovation, Leadership, and Assurance.
Today, according to the criteria, where "the best pesticide corporate brand gets 100 points while a good corporate brand in China gets 60 points”, the Pilarquim brand is 80 points. This requires us to establish our brand in several important aspects, which are: product innovation and product quality (inclusive of packaging), product promotion, value experience, product reputation, stakeholder win-win results, human resource and team building. The details are defined as the following:
◆ Product innovation: We endeavor to make innovation in composition, formulation and product performance development to reach a world-class level. What is needed at present is compound innovation, which we must do in the future. In addition to pesticide technical innovation, in respect of formulation innovation, our goal is to reach the technical level of global top companies, for which we are targeting 95 points.
◆ Product quality and quality stability (inclusive of packaging): Keeping top-level companies as a benchmark, which requires the achievement of a high level of product quality and quality stability via improvement in the production process (inclusive of equipment support) by following in the footsteps of the world’s best; regarding top-level companies, a global QA/QC management system and the global OECD or CIPAC standards are applied to our quality management; and in terms of the formulation "quality", we have added customer experience index such as "product application performance", under which quality is subjected to evaluation by customers. In this regard, our goal is to target 90 points.
◆ Product promotion, value experience and reputation: "Pilarquim’s promotion and service are similar to that of international companies" and "Pilarquim is the only Chinese company that pays so much attention to product promotion." These were the quotes from customers when I visited the market. This is our reputation. Through our service implementation for users, our product value and corporate value are presented to customers. In this regard, our goal is to target 80 points.
◆ Stakeholder win-win results: We create value for government administrations, distributors, retailers, users and employees. In this regard, our goal is to target 80 points.
◆ Human resource and team-building: For human resource, we are gradually following the standards of multinational companies; for team building, we will gradually implement the project management mechanism and establish a "high-performance team". In this regard, our preliminary goal is 70 points, which will be gradually raised in time.
AgroPages: What are Pilarquim's product quality concept and values? How does the concept run through all steps of Pilarquim's product development, production and applications?
Mu Canxian: Pilarquim sticks to its "customer-centric" corporate culture and business philosophy, which is an adherence to the values of "excellent performance and efficacy-oriented product quality", where product quality is subjected to evaluation by users. Here are a few simple examples:
In terms of product innovation, research and development, we have developed several synergistic compositions such as PILARTEP, which is a reasonable combination of Tebuconazole and Pyraclostrobin, with a synergistic coefficient of 289. Through scientific compounding, the efficacy is greatly increased after the two products are combined.
In terms of formulation innovation, a large number of microcapsule products have been developed, which could reduce environmental degradation and improve product safety. While reducing the amount of use, product efficacy and long-lasting effect are improved.
In the selection of raw materials and adjuvants, the selection of more efficient and more stable raw materials could ensure product quality and stable performance, which has changed the past impression of the unstable quality of Chinese products.
As regards to production, we are equipped with the world-class production, processing and quality control equipment; we have implemented the global QA/QC management system, having adopted global quality standards.
For application and service, we adhere to guidelines which provide customers with precise user instructions. Our staff is required to visit the application site to investigate, train and guide users on product use to make the most of the performance of the product.
AgroPages: What is Pilarquim's idea and direction in terms of formulation innovation? For what kind of plant protection application is it mainly designed?
Mu Canxian: Pilarquim's idea for formulation innovation is: formulations will become more efficient and safer to create greater value for users.
The direction in innovation targets two main aspects: one is to develop more synergistic and user-friendly ready-mixture products; the other is to make breakthroughs in formulations like the development of formulations such as DF, CS, ZC, OD as well as seeking breakthroughs in nano-formulation. The main purpose is to make these formulations more efficient, safer and more environment friendly.
AgroPages: Can you please explain the innovative idea on Pilarquim's CS and ZC formulations?
Mu Canxian: The formulation in CS is a formulation which uses an organic polymer layer to get the active ingredients coated, being suspended in the form of particles in water. This formulation resists the adverse effect on the compound from the environment, reduces toxicity and improves safety.
The electron microscope scanning of microcapsule
Here are some typical examples to intuitively explain the significance of these formulations:
Abamectin, Lambda-cyhalothrin and Emamectin benzoate are applied to the environment, the compound is quickly decomposed by the UV irradiation in the sunlight, leading to failure of efficacy in short period. However, if the compound is carried in the microcapsules, it is less exposed to UV irradiation. When the compound is applied to the surface of crops, its existence in the environment lasts longer, thus creating the value of less use while achieving the same effect of other formulations like the EC formulation. In normal circumstances, the amount of use can be 25 percent less. Moreover, as the microcapsule has the controlled-release function, its protection period is extended, which is in general doubled, and some compounds can even extend the protection period over five times. These compounds have been processed into the microcapsule form, to be also used in the control of underground insect pests or nematodes. As the active ingredients are gradually released, which slows down the degradation in the soil, the half-life period is extended accordingly. Hence, the function of control of underground insect pests or nematodes shows its effectiveness.
In terms of the pre-emergence of herbicides such as S-metolachlor, Butachlor, Oxadiargyl, Pendimethalin, Flumioxazin, or fungicides used for control of soil-borne disease like Metalaxyl-M and Pyraclostrobin, microcapsules as applied to the soil surface or soil, due to controlled release, can reduce the speed of degradation of active ingredients by sunlight and soil microorganism. Therefore, even if the use of active ingredients of this type of formulation is reduced, the same effect can be achieved. A large number of efficacy tests show that after the S-metolachlor is processed into a microcapsule, the number of active ingredients can be reduced by over 40%, while the same herbicidal effect can be achieved and the acting time is extended by 50% or above. Furthermore, as the amount of use is reduced and it is gradually released, the concentration of pesticides is decreased in the environment which further cuts down the damage to root growth, making the product safer to the crops.
As shown in the picture, the right side is the ordinary formulation type of Prochloraz EW. After diluted and sprayed, the active ingredients are exposed when the moisture and solvent in the solution are evaporated, forming large particle crystals; while the left side is the Prochloraz 30% CS of Pilarquim. Due to the protection of capsule wall, product still maintains small spherical particles, which provide large contact area with crops or pests, and can penetrate rapidly from stomata, thereby maintaining its rapid effect.
Some non-systemic fungicides, such as Prochloraz, when being processed into microcapsules, can also extend the protection period and reduce the amount of use. Researches show that Prochloraz in the form of microcapsule can achieve the same effect even if the amount of use is reduced by 30%.
The toxicity of some high-toxic or moderately toxic compounds, after being processed into microcapsule, is reduced due to the feature of controlled release. For example, Pyraclostrobin is highly toxic to aquatic organism, but its concentration in water is very low due to controlled-release after being processed into a microcapsule. Hence, the toxicity to an aquatic organism is decreased and the scope of the application of the compound is extended.
AgroPages: Can you introduce Pilarquim’s microcapsule product series at present and its development in the international market?
Mu Canxian: Pilarquim’s PILARMD (Lambda-cyhalothrin 250g/l CS), PILARCLOTRIN (Lambda-cyhalothrin + Clothianidin 280g/l ZC), PILARGOLD (S-metolachlor 480g/l CS), PILARCOVER (Butachlor + Oxadiargyl 318g/l CS) and PILARMECTIN (Abamectin 53g/l CS) have been expedited and promoted in several countries, with the achievement of similar results like in China. With the gradual grant of overseas registration of the microcapsule products, Pilarquim’s microcapsule products are expected to create greater value for customers, which are mainly reflected by the saved use amount, extended acting time and safer application, which are all the values of Pilarquim brought by the advantages of the products of the company.
In the next 3 years, Plarquim will launch more than 20 CS products to the market, form our unique formulation product system, and take a more solid step towards independent innovative formulation brands.
AgroPages: From the business promotion perspective, when an innovative product is introduced into countries of different characteristics, do you need to have a different marketing strategy? Can you share some of the experiences?
Mu Canxian: When Pilarquim introduces innovative formulations to the overseas market, because of the unique product performance, different application methods and technique, more inputs are required from our company, such as research experiment, demonstration promotion, adapted and more precise training on the application method and technique, down-to-earth service and brand building. Meanwhile, our local staff needs to have a good command of special knowledge and practical skills. This is different from the traditional trading mode of Chinese companies.
Pilarquim is committed to becoming one of the world's best agrochemical companies, and one of the core goals is to establish its own innovative formulation product brand in the global market towards the goal of becoming China's leading independent innovative formulation brand.
AgroPages: In your opinion, what presently is the global formulation development trend? Does Pilarquim have other innovative product reserves besides microcapsule suspension?
Mu Canxian: At present, the global formulation development is moving forward in a more environment-friendly, more efficient and safer direction.
Several years ago, the formulation was developed in a environment-friendly water-based direction, where water dispersible granules developed towards dry suspension while seed coating also developed rapidly. In the next few years, formulations such as OD, SC, ZC will attract the attention of more manufacturers. A promising future is foreseeable.
Besides, precision control and targeted release-oriented nanotechnology also represent a trend of pesticide formulation development, where nano-pesticides are expected to become more efficient and more environment-friendly. Pilarquim is making some basic research in this area, such as organosilicon nano-insecticide, nanocrystallization of conventional formulations, which will gradually be launched to market.
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