Agrochemicals are central components of modern agriculture, providing the means to improve nutrients in soils, combat pests, promote growth and prevent damage from fungi. They are subsequently implemented in all areas of the farming sector, from commercial planting to dairy farming, and at all scales, from subsistence to industrial agriculture.

While agrochemicals are critical to the long-term food security of the world, the specific chemicals and quantities needed, vary depending on production. For example, a region consuming a mostly grain and cereal based diet will have different demands than one that consumes higher levels of meat. Similarly, demand for plant-based alternatives for meat will shift what crops are grown and what agrochemicals are needed.

Agrochemicals Today: Changing Trends in a Changing World

Global food supply chains have changed dramatically over the past fifty years. A study involving the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine compiled data on eating habits for 171 countries over a fifty-year period. This report provides a multi-faceted analysis of how the global food industry has changed in that time. Such data are critical for agrochemicals manufacturers as shifts in consumer demands will drive shifts in agricultural production and ensuing demand for the necessary agrochemicals.

Eating Habits in East Asia

The study showed that China, South Korea, and Taiwan experienced enormous changes in food demand with animal-based products accounting for a much larger proportion of the national diet. This is of interest to the United Nations who attributed the Westernization of Asian diets to rapid economic and income growth in the region, plus the move towards globalization. This represents a significant opportunity in East Asia for agrochemical manufacturers to meet the growing demand for agrochemicals to support a paradigm shift from traditional cereal-based farming towards commercialized agriculture focused on livestock, dairy products, vegetables, and fruit.

Agricultural Challenges in Sub-Saharan Africa

Limited changes were found in eating habits across sub-Saharan African nations over the past 50 years, which is largely attributed to a lack of food security and diversity in the supply chain. The World Health Organization (WHO) acknowledged the importance of improving nutrition across the region where dietary habits tend towards saturated fats and sugars.

Despite these dietary issues, Africa’s agricultural market is one of the largest in the world, with an estimated 23% of sub-Saharan Africa’s GDP deriving from agriculture. There is still immense capacity and demand to intensify agriculture across the continent, which represents a significant opportunity for agrochemicals manufacturers. Already one of the largest consumers of agrochemicals worldwide, estimates suggest sub-Saharan Africa would consume more than eight times as much fertilizer as it does today and increase its production of cereals and grains by two or three times its current levels.

Plant-Based Diets in Western Countries

The predominating dietary trend in Western countries, including the UK, US, and Canada, is towards plant-based food goods. Market analysts predict that this sub-sector will grow by 12% in the next few years as relatively affluent consumers focus on health, wellbeing, and sustainability. There are also environmental and animal welfare drivers causing many to reduce meat consumption. These interconnected factors have contributed to an almost 100% increase in US consumers who consider themselves vegan within a single year. But how does this affect agriculture and the agrochemicals sector specifically?

Demand for cereals and grains that would normally feed livestock has declined, while there has been a significant uptick in demand for crops intended for meat-free food. In turn, there is a shift in demand from agrochemicals to support meat production to demand for agrochemicals for the mono-agricultural crops such as soybeans used in the production of meat-free alternatives. This directly contrasts the likes of China where dairy and meat are only just becoming dietary staples.

Shifting Demand and the Role of Custom Manufacturing Partners

Shifts in diet along with other factors such as environmental protection initiatives and climate change mean that we can expect an evolving marketplace for agrochemicals. To meet changing demands, global agrochemical supply chains need to be flexible and adaptable. Custom manufacturing partners offer an affordable way to launch production in new markets. On the other hand, where there is maturity in demand, a custom manufacturing partner can provide flexibility to agrochemical companies  for asset reallocation toward growing markets.

Read More: What are Agrochemicals?

At CABB, we have decades of experience supporting the agrochemical industry with custom fine chemical services. If you would like to learn more, Contact a member of the CABB team today.