The seed sector is one of the critical agricultural inputs required by growers to produce crops for food, animal feed and non-food use. With the global population expected to reach 9.8 billion by 2050, changing climate and constraints on available land areas for cultivation, the need for cost-effective seed technology is increasingly essential in sustainable agricultural production strategies.
The total seed market comprises the conventional seed segment and the genetically modified (GM) seed segment. The former is a global market, the latter is firmly established in North and South America and some parts of Asia but largely absent in Europe, where consumer and regulatory barriers have prevented its uptake.
Future developments in the seed market, driven by GM traits, new breeding technologies or new non-GM technologies, are crucial in delivering the necessary improvements in yield, nutritional value, tolerance to drought and stress.
Key facts about the Seed and GM Crops market
- The commercial seed market increased by 4.9% to reach an estimated $44,944 million in 2020. Within this, the global GM seed market, which includes herbicide-tolerant (HT), insect-resistant (IR), and stacked trait seeds, grew by 8.0% to reach $21,465 million.
- In 2020, GM seeds accounted for 48% market share in the commercial seed market, whereas the area reported under GM and conventional seeds was 19% and 81% of the total crop plantation area, respectively.
- Herbicide tolerance is the most common trait among GM crops, present either as a single, multiple HT or stacked trait. HT traits have been very successful, especially in corn, cotton and soybeans. In the USA, planted areas of HT varieties/hybrids have plateaued at ~90% for each of these three crops, and there is similarly high uptake in Argentina and Brazil.
- Our company analysis shows Corteva Agriscience was the most active company in 2020, followed by Bayer. Companies with larger market shares, including Bayer and Corteva, were more focused on R&D, digital agriculture and new product launches. The companies with smaller market shares, namely, KWS, Vilmorin, Sakata, Barenbrug, RAGT, were involved in M&A activities to continue their global expansion in specific domains.
- In 2020, North America remained the GM seed market leader with 63% share, followed by Latin America, 32%, Asia Pacific 4% and the Middle East and Africa 1 %. The overall GM seed market has grown at 8% during 2020 over 2019, with North America being the fastest growing market with YoY growth of 10% and the Middle East and Africa the slowest, where the market value declined by 11%. The change in the North American region was driven by increased soybean area and seed prices. In Latin America, the GM seed market growth was influenced by the high commodity prices, increase in GM area, increase in area under high-value traits and increased farmer’s income; however, weak currencies remained the primary market constraint. As a result, the overall Latin American GM seed market value has grown slowly compared to North America in USD terms.