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China pesticide industry continues downturn

According to the data from National Bureau of Statistics, China's pesticide output reached 1.92 million tonnes in Q1-Q3 2011, up 15.7% compared with that at the same period last year. Pesticide output in the whole year of 2011 is predicted to reach about 2.5 million tonnes and domestic demand may reach 308,000 tonnes, based on CCM’s latest issue of Crop Protection China News.

Although the amount of pesticide output and sales volume in 2011 is predicted to increase to a certain extent, domestic pesticide industry still seems to be trapped in downturn.

According to the 2011 Q3 financial reports of all the listed pesticide companies in China, including 20 listed companies that mainly engaged in pesticide production and sales, total revenue of these companies reached USD4.07 billion in Q1-Q3 2011, up 24.07% compared with that at the same period last year. However, the net profit in this period on the other side witnessed slide, reaching USD100.66 million, down 32.28% over Q1-Q3 2010.

Overcapacity is still considered to be the main reason for the downturn of domestic pesticide industry. At the beginning of 2011, although insiders have ever predicted that domestic pesticide industry may recover in 2011 due to the prediction of price increase of raw materials, the intense competition and lagging price increase of pesticides have made the industry remain in downturn.

Domestic pesticide output gradually has surged in recent years, but the domestic demand accounts for merely 1/8 of the total output. As an export-oriented country in pesticide industry, China has a large amount of pesticides exported to oversea market every year. In Q1-Q3 2011, China has accumulatively exported 594,200 tonnes of pesticides, consisting of 158,100 tonnes of insecticides, 377,200 tonnes of fungicides and 58,900 tonnes of herbicides.

Adding up the pesticide amount consumed by domestic market and the export volume, a large amount of pesticides remain in dull sale condition. Aiming to maximize interests and further seize the market share, most of domestic pesticide companies still have the competitive ability to expand the capacity of their products. So far, some pesticides, such as glyphosate, imidacloprid, abamectin and acetochlor, have suffered from serious overcapacity in China.

Glyphosate, an effective herbicide but with tragic destiny in China, is always mentioned when talking about pesticide overcapacity in China. Domestic glyphosate capacity reaches over 720,000t/a in 2011, but the output is predicted to be 300,000 tonnes to 350,000 tonnes. With dim consumption capability in oversea market and low consumption amount in domestic market, downturn of domestic glyphosate industry continues in 2011. Performance of some main glyphosate manufacturers in China mirrored the downturn in Q1-Q3 2011, such as Nantong Jiangshan Agrochemical & Chemicals Co., Ltd. and Anhui Huaxing Chemical Industry Co., Ltd.

Acetochlor, a herbicide used in large dry farmland, also faces overcapacity this year. Its total capacity reaches 140,000t/a in 2011, but only 10,000 tonnes and 20,000 tonnes are consumed in domestic market and oversea market respectively.

Business of products like imidacloprid and abamectin are even more difficult in China in 2011. Serious product homogenization, overcapacity and impact from foreign products such as chlorantraniliprole have made enterprises face even larger pressure.

At present, pesticide export is still considered to be an efficient way to ease the overcapacity pressure in China. However, fundamental problems can't be solved by only depending on pesticide export. As more and more high-level pesticides with low toxicity and residue, and improved pesticide effect developed by foreign pesticide giants, the pesticide demand in oversea market will indirectly decrease. Cracking down and standardizing the chaotic pesticide industry, leading to orderly production, more investment in new pesticide R&D, etc. are considered to be good ways to ease the downturn in domestic pesticide industry. Unfortunately, it is more easier said than done, and serious overcapacity in China may still continue in the next few years.

by S. C.
30 december 2011, World News > Asia