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FMC bets on pheromones for corn, other extensive crops in Chile, Latin Americaqrcode

Dec. 28, 2022

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Dec. 28, 2022

BioPhero ApS
Denmark  Denmark

FMC bets on pheromones for corn, other extensive crops in Chile, Latin America

Mating disruption is a protection strategy against pests that is already known among agronomists who handle fruit trees and vegetables. The strategy to release formulations into the air that confuse and disrupt the reproductive habits of worms, moths or flies is already well known for high value crops. However, due to its high cost, it is not often used on extensive crops, such as corn, soybeans, cotton and other cereals, which dominate the agricultural areas of Latin America.

This area is seen as an important opportunity for growth by US firm FMC. The company’s strategy was stated by Renata Alcaraz, who is in charge for Latin America, except Brazil, of the American firm’s Plant Health Division. ″We want to be disruptive and promote the use of pheromones on major crops, such as corn, cotton and soybeans,″ Alcaraz said.

Pheromones that disrupt mating are some of the new products with which the company, founded in Philadelphia almost 140 years ago as a manufacturer of insecticides, aims to use to strengthen its portfolio of biological products for agriculture. In July, the firm completed the acquisition, for US$200 million, of Danish firm BioPhero, which specializes in the development of pheromones, allowing it to expand its catalog of biocontrol and biostimulant products. "We are at the stages of developing our brand, working out our positioning, and registering processes for the commercialization of pheromones in the region. We are working on the technique for use against fall armyworm, Spodoptera frugiperda, Helicoverpa and other pests,″ Alcaraz said.

The launch of these products will be one of the priority focuses of FMC's Plant Health Division, which brings together the firm's catalog of biological products and has been gaining importance in the system. The firm also recently integrated the head of its Plant Health Division, Dr. Bénédicte Flambard, into its operating committee and added the position of vice president, in response to the investments it made to extend the division’s work to biological products. Dr. Flambard has played a key role in the investments to expand the biological laboratories and greenhouses at the firm’s EIC (European Innovation Center), as well as in the purchase and integration of the Danish company, BioPhero.


Alcaraz, who supports the division for Latin America from Mexico, is clear about the importance of these segments for the company's plans.

In an interview with Redagrícola, the biologist, who graduated from the University of Guadalajara, said, ″Although the biological area had existed in the company for several years, it had not been given the focus, resources and energy that is being given now.″

The firm has also set ambitious goals for the division. ″By 2025, FMC's Plant Health Division will achieve sales of US$150 million in Latin America. Currently, we are at US$80-90 million annually,″ Alcaraz said.

The move is major bet for the company, which considers Latin America, together with Asia Pacific, as its main sources of growth in therms of biologicals. ″The region’s agriculture actively seeks new markets to export and has the specialized technical capacities to achieve this, which will open doors for relevant market development,″ Alcaraz said.

To achieve this objective, the company must continue complementing its catalog of biologics, for which it has combined three different mechanisms: the development of internal formulations, alliances with third parties, and company acquisitions, which was the case with BioPhero. ″We are actively looking for new options, we are product hunters. We are not only looking for products that are good quality and offer excellent performance, they should also be products that complement the rest of our offerings,″ Alcaraz stressed.

In 2017, FMC gained experience in key acquisitions, when it integrated an important part of the crop protection division of the giant, Dupont, after it merged with Dow . This move and other incorporations have been important for FMC, whose annual sales reached US$5.594 billion in the 12 months ending September 30, 2022, an increase of almost 17%.


Although the company has historically been strongest in crop control and protection technologies, it has also been strengthening its portfolio in the biostimulation/biofertilization categories, as well as in crop nutrition and soil improvers.

RhizoMagic, a root growth promoter based on algae extracts, polypeptides and micronutrients, is the company’s most relevant launch in Mexico this year. The biofungicide, Forenia, and the bionematicide, Tulinea, are other products that are in the launch pipeline for various Latin American markets.

The aims is to repeat the success of Quartzo in Brazil, a popular nematicide that has become the main product of FMC's Plant Health line in the country and Latin America. Brazil accounts for some 70% of the company's sales in the region.

The option to launch pheromones for use on extensive crops makes sense, especially in a country like Mexico, where producers of the. major crop, corn, do not usually use biological products for the protection, fertilization or stimulation of plants. ″The challenge for farmers is to ensure profitability, so they take great care of the cost for each application. For example, if we can reduce the cost of combating the fall armyworm, it will clearly help them with profitability,″ Alcaraz said.

Alcaraz then counted out that BioPhero’s production of pheromones in Denmark is an industrial process that allows for a significant cost reduction in manufacturing synthetic pheromones. ″What BioPhero has is a highly industrial production process, which is similar to making a beer. Yeast is used and through the fermentation process, it produces pheromones. We can then produce tons of pheromones, so to have an installed capacity to serve a market such as extensive crops, while being affordable and profitable,″ Alcaraz said in conclusion.

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The 4th Biopesticides, Biostimulants and Novel Fertilizers International Summit (BioEx 2023) will take place on 9th & 10th March in Hangzhou, China. We are pleased to invite speakers from the commercial, research, extension, government, regulatory and farming sectors to submit your proposals and abstracts for oral presentations.

Source: RedAgricola


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