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Bayer Crop Science Adds AgraQuest For Entrée Into Sustainable Seed

PMA Sarah

On the expo floor during the Produce Marketing Association (PMA) Fresh Summit and Expo in Anaheim, Calif., Sarah Reiter talked with The Shelby Report about the deal that brought together the company she formerly worked for, AgraQuest, and Bayer Crop Science in August 2012.

Reiter, who is director of global product management-biologics, said that for Bayer Crop Science, the acquisition of AgraQuest gave it entrée into the sustainable side of crop science.

“AgraQuest specialized in the research, development and commercialization of biological crop protection products,” Reiter said. “With the acquisition, Bayer has really put a stake in the ground to say we want to own a piece of that biological market.”

The AgraQuest arm of the business, now called Bayer Crop Science Biologics, will remain based in Davis, Calif., where it has operated for the past 16 years, she said.

The companies are in the integration phase, “which means combining our 200-person company with a 23,000-person company. We’re moving from 27 countries that we serviced before to serving 120 different countries with our technology,” Reiter said. “It’s really exciting.”

Bayer Crop Science is a seed company that develops both classical and GMO varieties.

“With Bayer’s historically strong position in crop protection chemistry and our biologics unit, which will focus on the sustainable portion of ag inputs, together we are going to be building what we call sustainable crop solutions…to give growers a well-rounded offering,” she said.

“By integrating those two different kinds of chemistry—a biologic piece and a classic piece—you end up with better strategy for managing the development of resistance so that growers can count on those products working well into the future,” Reiter said. “The insects or diseases won’t become immune to them, basically.”

She noted that some shoppers in Europe already have begun to choose their food store based on which one offers fresh food with the least exposure to chemicals.

“Food retailers liked Tesco and Marks & Spencer actually compete against one another in their fresh components in their stores for the least chemical residue,” she said. “It’s a point of definite differentiation for those fresh retailers, and also huge global food companies like Walmart and Unilever and Pepsi/Frito-Lay; they’re all pleasing their customers and their shareholders with commitments to sustainability. Bayer really wants to be able to service those needs and this deal provided a great way to do it.”

In January, Bayer Crop Sciences Biologics will be introducing a new fungicide to the U.S. called Optiva, which Reiter describes as “a broad spectrum fungicide and bacteriacide which will be used for growers, predominantly in high-value veg, vines, tree fruit and nuts, lettuce, a few other markets. It’s a really exciting product and it’ll fit nicely into the overall Bayer offering in those crops. It’s a good fit; we’re excited.”

 

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