During its 30 years of development, Limin Group Co., Ltd. (Limin Group) has embarked on a practical and unique development path for domestic agrochemical companies, with technological breakthroughs as its starting point, product portfolio as its core, industrial integration as its approach, and brand strategy as its direction. In this report, we will review the development of Limin Group and the rise of Chinese pesticides, and share our views on the opportunities and future of China’s pesticide development.
The year 2022 will be full of challenges, opportunities and changes for China’s agrochemical industry, and the Limin Group’s development course and vision is the prelude to a new chapter.
I. Breakthrough-Establishment-Innovation: The development of Limin Group
1. Domestic breakthroughs in the fungicide segment, which is the starting point of Limin Group
Limin Group’s took the lead to produce mancozeb in China in 1990, which is the starting point of its pesticide business. Over the past 30 years, Limin Group has adhered to its development spirit of “hard work and continuous innovation,” and now maintains a leading position in China’s fungicide segment by taking mancozeb as the starting point of its development, establishing and maintaining its market advantages in mancozeb both at home and abroad, by expanding its production capacity and improving product quality by developing complexed mancozeb. Currently, the market share of Limin Group’s mancozeb products ranks first among domestic brands in the Chinese market. While consolidating production capacity and improving quality, Limin Group also focuses on overseas registration and product standards, to enhance its influence in overseas markets through the global marketing of its mancozeb products. Over the past 20 years, Limin Group has managed to complete the registration of its mancozeb technical, single formulation and combined formulation in the EU, Brazil, the US, Argentina and other major markets. As of November 2021, Limin Group’s mancozeb products have been sold in 82 countries and regions worldwide. In 2012, it successfully applied for the update of the CIPAC standard for mancozeb. In 2016, it independently applied for and completed the update of the FAO/WHO standard for mancozeb. In 2020, the CIPAC/FAO/WHO’s joint meeting adopted the new analytical method for mancozeb invented by Limin Group, based on the new FAO International Standard for mancozeb that was established.
Over the past 30 years, the group’s in-depth participation in the entire industry chain of mancozeb, from product development, marketing, industrial consolidation, standard establishment to global reach, established a solid foundation for the healthy development of its agrochemical business and cultivated a team of talents with professional skills in domestic and international industrial segmentation and positioning.
2. Product upgrade and market exploration: The establishment of Limin Group's product line and brand image
Mancozeb is the first calling card of Limin Group in domestic and overseas markets, but its development is far from limited to a single product. Over the past 30 years, Limin Group has invested considerable resources in developing a product mix, to explore more effective crop protection solutions, form a broad portfolio of effective fungicides and enhance the competitiveness of its product lines. Over the past 30 years, Limin Group has developed, independently or through collaborations, fungicides, such as pyrimethanil, zineb, propineb, fosetyl-aluminum, chlorothalonil and azoxystrobin, forming a synergy effect of product combination, market collaboration and complementary efficacy with existing mancozeb products. Based on the market presence and industrial performance of mancozeb, these products have proven their superiority in terms of technical synthesis, formulation development and short-term market penetration, making Limin Group stand out among many agrochemical companies because of its product lines, which feature “one superior product and many competitive ones,” further consolidating the operational advantages of the company.
In addition to expanding its product resources, Limin Group is also committed to advancing brands both at home and abroad. It holds 203 domestic product registrations for formulations, participates in the development of national standards for 18 products and industry standards for 24 products, established over 240 corporate standards, and applied for more than 630 domestic trademarks, of which “Limin” has been recognized as a “Well-known Trademark in China.” Relying on formulation resources, product standards and brand advantages, Limin Group has established more than 2,000 sales outlets around the country, as well as subsidiaries or offices in Tanzania, Kenya, Vietnam and Myanmar. Its products and brands are well-known in the agrochemical industry in China, as well as in Europe, Southeast Asia and Africa.
3. Making M&A as an opportunity to move towards the blue ocean: Limin Group’s new journey
There is no end to upgrading the products and no limits to the development of a company. Since its A-share listing in 2015, Limin Group has entered a new phase of development. Based on its existing product line combination and market coverage at home and abroad, it adopted an M&A strategy focusing on strong alliances and complementary advantages. In 2017, Limin Group acquired Shuangji Chemical, to integrate their production capacity and cover the market for mancozeb and dithiocarbamate fungicides in China. This acquisition has made the group the second largest supplier of these products in the world and enables it to comprehensively cover the market and promote its technology and brand in China. In 2019, the group combined with Hebei Veyong through an equity acquisition and expanded its product line from fungicides to herbicides and insecticides, further consolidating its advantages in core overseas markets, such as the United States and Brazil, through Hebei Veyong’s overseas registrations and presence. After the completion of these two acquisitions, Limin Group gained further advantages in terms of product portfolio, market control, production base, overseas licenses/permits and talent teams, and formed an integrated development system based on advantageous products and formulation portfolio that support, domestic and international channels, with resources and overseas registration as the path, establishing a solid foundation for the group’s advancement in the next stage.
In 2020, Limin Group became a top 20 company in terms of sales in the global agrochemical industry.
Technological breakthroughs, brand establishment and operational innovation, these are how Limin Group has grown over the past 30 years. In the future, it will uphold the spirit of “breakthrough, establishment and innovation,” continuing to break through limits, be brave in innovation, and create a larger blue ocean space in the development of China’s agrochemical industry!
II. Keeping up with trends and being on top: Limin Group’s vision in the pesticide industry
1. The development trend of the fungicide segment and Limin Group’s product deployment
Since the start of the 21st century, the global fungicide segment has been characterized by intense product competition and iteration. This can be seen in three aspects. Firstly, the competition for generic products has become increasingly fierce, with the integration of full industry chain operations and channel promotion becoming the core competitiveness of companies, Secondly, the presence of many patented and to-be-off-patent products, accompanied by fungicide resistance solutions, has led to a diversified product development pattern, Thirdly, the increasing unpredictability of major countries’ regulations and policies, as well as unexpected bans and restrictions of products, limited the development of old products and created room for the promotion of new products. In the face of the changing trends in the fungicide segment, Limin Group, based on its own strengths, has chosen a development place and structure that are in line with the industry’s trends and reflects its characteristics.
In the domestic market, Limin Group offers diversified solutions for different crops and varied disease scenarios through an ever-expanding product portfolio. It is continuously enhancing the efficiency of mancozeb by improving formula and combination practices, and creating a more innovative product portfolio to guarantee crop protection for farmers. By focusing on product quality and combined solutions, the group has consolidated its dominant position in the domestic market.
In the international market, Limin Group actively responds to the changes of laws and regulations, and speeds up product deployment and registration to provide customers with alternative solutions to various ban and/or restriction scenarios. At the same time, based on its new product line resources obtained after various acquisitions, the group is able to provide existing customers with synergistic solutions for crop protection products other than fungicides. Through these two approaches, the group is well positioned to cope with changes to regulations. For example, in 2018, propineb, one of Limin Group’s key products, was banned in the EU, but its sales in the EU region, as well as its overall sales, grew significantly in 2018, 2019 and 2020, proving the effectiveness of its marketing strategy that focuses on a large product portfolio and aggressive promotion.
Limin Group has established business cooperation relationships with multinationals over the years, and takes the products of these multinationals as benchmarks for improving the quality of its own products, and, by signing stable supply agreements with multinationals, such as Bayer, Corteva and Syngenta, it is more sensitive to market changes and more capable of resisting market fluctuations.
Therefore, we can believe Limin Group has the diversified means to cope with various challenges facing future fungicide market trends.
2. Industry chain coordination and product portfolio advantages: Limin Group’s development concept
For bulk products, the only way to leverage product strengths is having a coherent industry chain. Since the very start when Limin Group entered the mancozeb and fungicide segment, it has been its target to strengthen the chain.
Limin Group’s efforts in industry chain coordination stem from the industrial layout of its mancozeb products. During the initial stage, the group established a good market reputation by improving its technical process, enhancing the performance of its formulations, and expanding its domestic channels. With the continuous development of its business both at home and abroad, Limin Group further expanded its domestic and international channel resources through marketing and product registration, and consolidated its production capacity advantage through the acquisition of Hebei Shuangji Chemical. While focusing on the integration of its domestic mancozeb production, the group also expanded its upstream raw material channels and formed stable long-term supply contracts with major domestic and international ethylenediamine companies, to optimize raw material supply costs and ensure the stability of production and supply. As a result, Limin Group formed an integrated industry chain coordinating raw material supply, synthesis base, formulation production and sales channels for mancozeb. This valuable experience has been incubated and promoted in its subsequent core products, such as cymoxanil, fosetyl-aluminum, chlorothalonil, emamectin benzoate and glufosinate, and has helped form a solid industry chain advantage for the group.
Limin Group's factory in Xinyi, Jiangsu, China
With the acquisition of Hebei Veyong, Limin Group transformed itself from a fungicide-based agrochemical company to an agrobusiness that offers comprehensive crop protection solutions. With up to 300 product registrations, the group has a complete product coverage in rice, soybean, vegetable and other crop segments, providing farmers with comprehensive crop protection solutions. Based on its previous experience in promoting diversified fungicide products, Limin Group is able to offer more user-friendly and crop-oriented solutions, and its differentiated portfolio for different crops and segmented solutions for different pests, diseases and weeds can deliver greater product value to users, significantly enhancing competitiveness in the domestic crop protection market!
3. Manufacturing, brands and innovation: Limin Group's global vision
Based on its strategy for manufacturing in China and exploring the global market, Limin Group has been expanding its domestic and international resources, and its foreign trade development has also shown a positive trend in recent years. Although domestic companies continue to experience capacity shortages due to the pressures caused by environmental protection standards and the policy for controlling the amount and intensity of energy consumption, the group has maintained a stable and efficient production efficiency under the tight domestic production control situation, due to its production bases in Xinyi, Hebei and Inner Mongolia and strict environmental control measures, and it has not experienced any sudden production stoppages that result in the loss of product supply over the past three years. Stable supply has enabled the group to consolidate its domestic and international markets in recent years, and will be one of its core strengths in the future.
Based on reliable supply resources at the manufacturing end, Limin Group has been actively launching new products in China, to enrich its product line and offer customers more choices and better solutions. In terms of overseas markets, it has been aggressively building channels in key countries along the Belt and Road, such as Tanzania, Kenya and Vietnam, by establishing branches or representative offices and investing heavily in product registration resources, to promote its quality products and brands directly in the local markets, enhance the influence of its brands, and ensure synergy with products and technologies both at home and abroad.
In both domestic and international markets, Limin Group is keen to take advantage of opportunities resulting from the market shortage caused by the lack of domestic production capacity. It has vigorously consolidated and expanded its relationships with key customers through ensuring stable product supply, further introducing its rich product resources into the product lines of these customers through stable supply agreements, and strengthening its cooperation with major multinationals and buyers from around the world. Through these efforts, Limin Group was ranked among the Top 20 Global Agrochemical Companies in 2020.
A more stable product supply, more efficient brand solutions and broader market development will be the driving forces behind Limin Group’s industrial strengths and future growth in international markets.
III. Dithane, a legendary brand: Limin Group’s new calling card
1. Dithane’s brand image and core values
In 2021, the Limen Group used its own funds worth $20 million to purchase the proprietary technology, trademarks, registration data, efficacy data, licensing registration data on buyers, and the license for using the packaging design and labels of Dithane, a representational brand of Corteva Agriscience China. This purchase is the most important event over the last three years for domestic companies in the M&A of multinationals’ products, and has significantly stirred the market.
The story of what “Dithane” can bring to Limin Group needs to start with Dithane’s brand image and value core.
Since its introduction to the Chinese market in 1997 by Dow AgroSciences, the Dithane brand has been playing a key role in controlling diseases that affect fruit trees and vegetables. For more than 20 years, Dithane products have been the first choice for disease control in various crops, managing new fungicide resistance and field mixing and rotation, due to its stability, excellent product quality, efficacy and resistance development control after long-term use. It is one of the most popular fungicide brands in the market and has a high brand value. In particular, the Dithane brand, under PD220-97, is currently labelled for application against 17 disease groups affecting 13 crop categories, making it one of the fungicides the most extensive crop coverage and the most comprehensive range of target diseases in China. Therefore, for Limin Group, Dithane is not only a high quality mancozeb product, but is also an effective platform through its extensive fungicide crop coverage, and is the most comprehensive fungicide control solution recognized by the Chinese market. Based on the channel brand effect based on Dithane-mancozeb, the group is not only able to introduce its other mancozeb products on the strength of the extensive crop coverage of Dithane, but it can also incorporate its other fungicide products into the crop protection system created by Dithane through resistance solutions and integrated pest management programs.
Therefore, the core value of the Dithane brand is much more than Dow AgroSciences’s mancozeb, representing the diversified application of crops, broad-spectrum disease control effect and wide market recognition that no other fungicide brands can rival. By leveraging Dithane’s brand, Limin Group can not only enhance the product image of its core product mancozeb, expand the crop coverage and boost sales, as well as utilize the crop protection concept cultivated in the promotion of Dithane, to bring the group’s fungicide portfolio to a wider range of crop protection scenarios.
2. Synergy from the combination of Dithane and Limin Group
The combination of the Dithane brand and Limin Group may be the most valuable in China’s agrochemical market today. For the Dithane brand, Corteva Agriscience had only eight fungicide formulation registrations and offered Dithane a limited portfolio of products based on mancozeb, which have a wide range of applications. However, Limin Group, including Limin Chemical Co., Ltd., Shuangji Chemical and Hebei Veyong Bio-Chemical Co. Ltd., holds over 100 fungicide formulation registrations, enabling the Dithane brand to be used in a wide range of crops, which can greatly enhance the diversity of fungicide solutions for all types of crops included in the brand, a core advantage not previously available under the Dithane brand. The diverse targets of the group’s fungicides also extend the fungicidal spectrum and efficacy of the Dithane-mancozeb, offering the brand greater space for development and application.
For Limin Holdings, the labels it holds for various fungicide products do not have such a wide crop coverage as Dithane-mancozeb. Dithane’s experience of over 20 years in promoting crops has opened more application possibilities for Limin Group’s many fungicide products that were previously labelled for use on a few major crops. This rapid and effective expansion of application scope is undoubtedly valuable for the group.
The combination of Dithane’s diversified labelled applicable crops and Limin Group’s extensive product portfolio is central to the future commercial and market value of the Dithane brand, and the applicable crop and market space the Dithane brand has opened up for the group offers a visionary challenge to further expand its crop protection solutions.
3. Integrated crop solutions and product value under the Dithane brand
“Benefiting the country and the people” is the entrepreneurial spirit that Limin Group has been adhering to since its inception, and “protecting the plants” is a sentiment cherished by every player in the plant protection industry. In the future, based on its pesticide industry chain resources, rich product portfolio, profound domestic promotion base and extensive overseas channel distribution, combined with the crop market space, product portfolio solutions and market benchmarking effect brought by the Dithane brand, the group will further deepen its crop solutions offers and evolve from a broad product portfolio provider to a true crop solutions provider. In the future, through the fungicide cluster with the Dithane brand as the core, the group can can precisely position its 100+ fungicides for different crop and disease solutions, as well as drive the sales of its other insecticidal and weed control products in a collaborative manner, to achieve refined product positioning, collaborative product clusters, diversified combination solutions and efficient control quality. In this way, Limin Group will maximize the value of its existing industry chain.
The quality of a company’s products is the fertile ground for the development of a brand, and the growth of a brand is the endless source of a company’s development. Under the benchmarking effect of the Dithane brand, Limin Group’s quality products will continue to grow and become a cluster of products made in China with global influence. In the future, the added value of the Dithane brand will continue to be expanded and evolve from the current leading brand of mancozeb to a true crop protection solution brand, leading to the development of complementary combinations and harmonious coexistences.
In 2022, Limin Group will confront the challenges and set sail for the blue ocean market! Based on Dithane’s brand value and the company’s channel expansion, the group’s future in the global agrochemical market will be promising!