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Biopesticides: Industry Emerging with Opportunities, Market Growing through Challengesqrcode

Feb. 10, 2020

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Feb. 10, 2020
Joyce Wang

Joyce Wang

Editor of AgroPages


According to Mordor Intelligence, global biopesticide market in 2018 was valued around USD 3.14 bn, and the expected CAGR will be 14.1% from 2019 to 2024. The rapid market growth is driven by increasing demand for adoption of sustainable farming practices. Innovative technologies of biopesticides have been emerging in crop protection market, while challenges and obstacles can also be found in terms of their market expansion. Below are novel technologies and related hot news in 2019 as examples, and key players of the industry sharing their views on the challenges and their experience to respond.
Insect pheromone products are mainly used for pest prediction, trapping, mating interference, etc. Such products have the advantages of specific target, labor saving and no harm to bees, other wild animals, plants or human. They are mainly used in agriculture for insect pests such as Spodoptera exigua, Spodoptera litura, Helicoverpa armigera and corn borer. In 2019, when fall armyworm broke out in many countries, pheromone combined with chemical pesticides played an important role in control of such pest.
In 2019, acquisition, fund-raising and obtaining new product registration were the most important growth strategies for players in the industry. In April, Koppert Biological Systems acquired Oecos, which developed pheromones and other products. In June, Fall Army-Lure, sex pheromone introduced by Keyun Biocontrol, received emergency registration in Bangladesh to suppress fall armyworm on corn. After announcing the successful production of the fall armyworm pheromone at ton scale, Provivi stated in October that they had raised $85 million to support the company’s introduction of pheromone products in the future.
Pheromones provide an effective, environment-friendly approach for pest control, but such products were expensive in the past. Researchers are developing a new pheromone synthesis technology in the EU’s “OLEFINE” project, partnered with the Fraunhofer Institute for Building Physics, to reduce the production cost. The research team applied biotechnology to produce pheromones with metabolism of yeast cells under specific conditions. The field test for the biotechnologically manufactured pheromones is expected to be conducted in 2020, and the obtained data will be used for analyzing the impact of pheromones on environment and pests, as well as for cost analysis. Researchers believe that the cost-effectiveness of this technology will be much better than that of chemical production.
According to MarketsandMarkets, the global pheromone market in agriculture is expected to reach $2.4 billion in 2019 and could rise to $5.7 billion by 2025. With decreasing pheromone production cost, such market will develop even faster in the future.
Bee-delivery system
The delivery of biopesticide by bees has been applied by American growers since 2019. Bees carrying biopesticide can deliver the product on crops during pollination, and effectively control pests. Commercially reared bees are used to pollinate crops, especially for many greenhouse crops, and now, the bee-delivery system gives bees dual roles and helps growers reduce the costs of chemical pesticides, water, fuel and labor. 
The biopesticide used in bee-delivery system was developed by Bee Vectoring Technologies International Inc. (BVT). The patented Clonostachys rosea (CR-7) from the company was approved by the US EPA in 2019 for use as a fungicide on commercial crops. CR-7 is the first registered active ingredient of BVT and the first active ingredient approved by the EPA for application via bees. Vectorite™ containing CR-7 received OMRI organic certification in 2017. The product is applied to control significant crop-destroying diseases such as Sclerotinia, Botrytis, Monilinia, Anthracnose and Alternaria, and mitigate the risk of pathogen resistance to pesticides. The product is labeled for various high-value crops, e.g. strawberries, blueberries, sunflowers and almonds. Organic strawberry growers in Florida became the first users of Vectorite™ after it was approved.
The bee-delivery system works by having bumblebees walk through a specialist dispenser tray with Vectorite™ before leaving their hive and delivering spores of CR-7 to each plant they visit during their natural pollination. The technology can effectively control harmful organisms invading inside or around flowers with a specific target and thus largely reduce the use of pesticides compared with traditional spraying. 
The process has been through extensive field tests over the last decade. Its natural biopesticide is harmless to bees, human beings and the environment, and can increase the yield and prolong the shelf life of produce. The introduction of this technology marks a groundbreaking shift in the way organic plant protection products are applied.
Bacteriophage-based pesticides can efficiently control targeted pathogenic bacteria on crops without causing adverse effects on harmless bacteria or plants. Bacteriophages have demonstrated high efficacy in resistance management. At present, there are several different bacteriophage-based pesticides on the market, such as Agriphage in the US, Erwiphage in Hungary and Biolyse in the UK.
The biggest challenge in developing bacteriophage-based pesticides is to find bacteriophage varieties that can kill specific harmful bacteria from hundreds of millions of natural bacteriophages, for which the industry is making tremendous efforts. For example, in 2019 Bayer Trendlines Ag Innovation Fund established EcoPhage, which will develop bacteriophage products to control crop diseases.
And new bacteriophage-based products have entered the market in 2019. For example, Certis USA introduced AgriPhage™ Citrus Canker in the US to control citrus canker. This product can be used for organic production and can also be tank-mixed with several commonly used fungicides, liquid fertilizers, herbicides and insecticides. In addition, Certis USA also introduced AgriPhage™-Fire Blight, the only bacteriophage product in the industry to control fire blight. The product was used on apples and pears in Washington, New York, Pennsylvania and Michigan during the 2019 growing season, helping fight increasing fire blight resistance to conventional controls.
Bacteriophage-based pesticides are important supplements for farmers to combat tough-to-control bacterial diseases. The Journal Molecular Plant Pathology listed the top 10 plant pathogens such as Pseudomonas syringae, Ralstonia solanacearum, Xanthomonas spp. and Erwinia amylovora, which may be controlled by certain bacteriophage varieties. Due to the lack of chemical control options and antibiotic resistance, developing and marketing bacteriophage-based products attracts investment from global companies in the crop protection industry.
See more biopesticides approved/launched in 2019 below:
(Click to see the whole table)

Voices from Industry

AgroPages invited Kim Müller Christensen, Head of Plant Health at Chr. Hansen, and Pamela Marrone, Founder and CEO at Marrone Bio Innovations, to share their opinions on the opportunities and challenges in biopesticide industry, and developing experience of their companies.

1) Why and how has the business of your company grown to an international enterprise?
Chr. Hansen
Founded in 1874, Chr. Hansen is a global bioscience company that develops natural solutions for the food, nutritional, pharmaceutical and agricultural industries. Our product innovation is based on more than 30,000 microbial strains – what we call “good bacteria” - and we produce many hundred different bacterial strains each year. Chr. Hansen solutions enable food manufactures to produce more with less while reducing the use of chemicals and other synthetic additives, making our products highly relevant in today´s world. 
In January 2019, we were ranked world´s most sustainable company by Corporate Knights in recognition of the fact that our products have clear environmental social benefits. This recognition is something that we are very proud of and motivate us to aim even further with respect to what we do and how we do it.
With production sites on four continents and sales offices across the globe, we have a strong history of working in successful B2B partnerships where we deliver science-based and research-proven solutions that meet today’s demands and needs. Chr. Hansen offers tailormade solutions to our B2B partners through both long term collaboration projects and contract manufacturing.
Marrone Bio Innovations
We have focused on bringing a broad portfolio of plant protection products that fit the full range of grower needs. While most of our products are sold in the United States because of the more favorable regulatory process, we have efficacy trials and regulatory activities in more than 25 countries to expand globally. We are currently selling in 12 countries with our first product, Regalia.
Our aspiration is to continue to grow faster than the market to become a very large, profitable global biopesticide company. We expect also to have a successful bioherbicide franchise and our Pro Farm subsidiary will be a global seed treatment powerhouse.
2) Could you please talk a bit about your main biopesticide products?
Chr. Hansen
When Chr. Hansen entered the Plant Health business, we continued to build on the extensive knowledge and vision of the company. This enable us to bring effective and robust microbial solutions that help meet the specific challenges facing the global agriculture sector. 
These challenges include climate change, limited natural resources and an ever-growing population – all of which are putting an increasing strain on farmers and their resources. Against this backdrop it is vital to find new ways to protect crops against diseases and increase yields. 
Chr. Hansen is a bioscience company, founded in discovery and development and a world leading producer of microbials. We work with B2B partners to provide best-in-class biopesticides for growers worldwide. In close collaboration with our partners, Chr. Hansen brings new solutions to market, and with our Plant Health partners we have successfully launched products in both Latin and North America for a variety of crop types with impressive results. We harness the expertise of Chr. Hansen R&D, the “microbial powerhouse”, as well as our custom product development where we customize new products according to specific needs by utilizing the company’s core strengths in product quality, product scaling and supply reliability.
Marrone Bio Innovations


What is it?

What does it do?


Knotweed extract

Controls plant diseases and improves plant health; Strong on powdery mildew


New strain of Bacillus bacteria

Controls plant diseases and improves plant health; Strong on powdery mildew, white and gray molds



New species of bacteria

Stops feeding and reproduction of a broad range of chewing and sucking insects, mites and flies


Stops development of a broad range of chewing and sucking insects, mites and flies


Controls broad spectrum of root-feeding nematodes to increase yields & quality



Coconut oil extract

Reduces sun & water stress, increasing yields & quality

3) What is the biggest challenge, in your view, that biopesticide companies face today? How do your company cope with it?

Chr. Hansen
Chr. Hansen Plant Health solutions have been demonstrated and proven across different geographies and crop types and measured on robustness, health and yield of crops as well as consistency in effect. We see this as critical for commercial success. 
Some of the most significant challenges today are concerning consistency and quality, and we see many products in the market not delivering to their promise. Such products hurts the credibility of the rest of the biological industry tremendously. Key for success involve the ability to develop and innovate, formulate and not least scale up and produce a consistent high-quality product with the right bio efficacy. We aim to continuously understand the interaction between microbials and plants to bridge that knowledge in our future pipeline and communicate and offer technical support that empowers our B2B partners to improve the way they bring biological products to market.
Marrone Bio Innovations
Like other companies, we have a difficult time getting through the EU regulatory process. We continue to invest there and are working with IBMA to improve the process. It is sad that the EU removes so many chemicals but does not accelerate biopesticides.
We are growing rapidly, but there is still low grower awareness and education about biopesticides. While the concept of integrated programs (using biopesticide + chemicals together for better grower return on investment) is catching on, too often comparisons are made stand-alone and without consideration for the unique modes of action of biopesticides. Biopesticides are pigeon-holed into “organic-only” yet more than 70% of biopesticides are used by conventional growers. 
4) What do you think are the opportunities and obstacles for the industry in emerging markets like China/Africa?
Marrone Bio Innovations
We think China has high potential for biopesticides and for our products. Like many other places around the world, consumers are driving transparency and sustainability in food production. Unfortunately China changed the regulatory process and it is uncertain how to get products registered there now.
Chr. Hansen
There are certainly good opportunities in emerging markets, though awareness of biopesticides is still low. The adoption of biopesticides is likely to follow a similar trend as has been experienced in the past decade in more penetrated markets; years of education and the removal of low performing products for the benefit of higher quality products with robust performance.
Innovative biopesticide products have been emerging in the market as they meet the demand of sustainable farming practices, whereas all players in the market need to overcome the challenges and obstacles to further boost biopesticide adoption. 
Nowadays the registration procedures in China and Europe hinder the rapid entry of biopesticide products into the market. Companies may work with industry associations to promote policy changes. 
Farmers' limited awareness about biopesticides and unregistered products lead to farmers’ lack of confidence on biopesticides. It is therefore essential to provide education to the growers, remove unqualified products from the market, and manufacturers need to further increase products’ efficacy and consistency, in order to build trust with farmers.
Moreover, as most biopesticides on the market are currently used for conventional cultivation rather than organic farming, more research on optimizing the ways biological and chemical agents are used in combination, is crucial to promote sustainable agriculture. 
Source: AgroNews


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