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Seed and GM Crop Market Analysis

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.
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Key themes affecting the seed market

Seed alone accounts for 74% of crop yield gain, which makes it a point of focus to meet sustainability goals. Climate change, pest pressure and policies like decarbonisation lead to an increased demand for the innovation and adoption of seed technologies to develop seed varieties with high yield, better climate resilience, and low water and NPK requirements. On the other hand, the EU’s farm to fork strategy, promoting organic agriculture and reducing chemical usage, increases the demand for high-value organic seeds.

Adoption of GM technology in new crops, e.g. HT-wheat in Argentina and Golden Rice in the Philippines, and possibly the commercialisation of GM feed/biofuel crops in China, will significantly drive seed market growth. In addition, innovations and recently developed technologies around data sciences, digital farming, and gene editing will substantially impact the seed industry in the years to come.

Among breeding techniques, CRISPR has demonstrated its enormous scientific and commercial potential in just over five years. The gene-editing system is being utilised extensively by both private and public sectors to develop new traits in crops of interest. In 2020, around 14 crops developed using gene-editing technology were grown in the USA and Canada at commodity cultivation levels. In addition, more than 40 products from the private sector in various crops, primarily including canola, corn, soybean, camelina and rice, are at late stages of R&D and are soon expected to hit the market.

Compared with traditional GM technologies, the crops developed with new breeding technologies are much more diverse than the farmer-focused row crops and include food processor- and consumer-focused crops. The traits manipulated by gene-editing techniques are also focused on health benefits or agricultural sustainability.

Many countries with significant seed market share, including the USA, Argentina, Brazil, have moved away from regulating gene-editing technology as GMO. In Japan, Canada and Australia, it is lightly regulated. However, international harmonisation on regulation is lacking; approaches in one country may differ depending on use (environmental release or food use), e.g. USA and Japan. The European Union has concluded that GMO legislation was not fit for plants produced by GE or cisgenesis. The EU Commission proposal for new regulations is expected by mid-2023, which can change the complete seed market scenario in the region.

World Seed Market by Type 2010-2020 ($m.)

Type

2018

2019

2020

GM

21,411

19,867

21,465

Conventional

22,810

22,987

23,480

Total

44,220

42,855

44,944

Source: IHS Markit - ©2021 IHS Markit

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At IHS Markit, we offer market-leading seeds and GM crop information solutions via our globally recognised Crop Science Market Reporting and Market Analysis and Data services. Our specialist team of over 25 crop protection and seed experts offer comprehensive news, data and independent analysis across the global industry, with current news, data and market forecasting solutions to support all operational needs in your organization.

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Our Crop Science Market Reporting service, powered by Agrow, is the market leader in updates and news on the crop protection market, covering information from mergers and acquisitions to new products, and from regulatory changes to technological developments. Covering pesticides, herbicides, insecticides, fungicides, biological pest control and genetically modified crops, a Crop Science Market Reporting subscription also includes access to a range of tracking tools on M&A, active ingredient approvals, patents, and research and development pipeline.

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Seed and Genetically Modified Crop Analysis

Our Seed Market Analysis service provides a year 10-year view of the seed industry, with five years of historical data and analysis and market expectations for the next five years. Covers seed companies, countries, products and crop markets, including commercialised GM and non-GM seed products and those in research and development.

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Published throughout the year these reports dive deeper than information available on a Crop Science Market Reporting or Market Analysis and Data services alone, taking special reports on key topics driving the crop protection and seeds markets compliments subscription services. These provide critical updates on regulations, products, technology and other emerging trends.

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