This volume in 2010 has similarities to volumes of the same title in earlier editions. Part of the reason is that success in biopesticides rests on a few fundamentals which do not change all that much, although there are ever more examples of both what to do and what to avoid. This volume briefly addresses the characteristics of the companies that go into biopesticides.
It sets out and reviews the key success factors for participation in the biopesticides business. Similarly, the processes of finding, making and then marketing biopesticides are discussed in detail.
For this edition, we have decided to include some historical examples as parables of generally what not to do.
We have included detailed sections on:
- Agricultural Genetics Company (later MicroBio then Becker Underwood)
- Ecogen (gone)
- EcoScience (gone)
- Koppert (still growing)
- Mycogen (gone to Dow)
- Novo (formerly Tate & Lyle, Microbial Resources, later Abbott then Valent/Sumitomo)
Each of these companies was reviewed in some detail in the early 1990s in a short-lived journal called AgBioIndustry published by CPL and CABI. These reviews are included in full, and even then the full folly of most of them was clear. For each, there is an itemised history showing the optimism with which participants and investors approached this field.
We have also included a shorter overview from 2002 of:
- AEF Global (gone in its original form)
- Bactec (gone)
- Biosys (gone to Certis)
- Earth BioSciences / Taensa (gone)
- EcoSoil Systems (gone)
- Eden Bioscience (gone)
- Mycotech (gone to Laverlam)
- Verdera / Kemira (now Lallemand)
A feature of the biopesticides business is that 33 years ago when this author started, the market leaders were Abbott and Sandoz and Koppert BV was a sound family business selling biocontrol insects. In 2010, the market leaders are Abbott’s successor Valent, Sandoz’s successor Certis, and Koppert is still a sound but larger, mostly family business selling biocontrol insects among other products.
Within those 33 years, one biopesticide company, Eden BioSciences, was briefly worth $1billion without having a real product. Others used capital for acquisitions of real companies as their ‘route to market’. Others tried ‘roll-ups’, putting together a number of weak companies hoping to make a strong one. Some of the founders and investors made money, but most did not.
This volume mostly illustrates that the biopesticides business is about the fundamentals, knowing your customers and markets, having sound products and crucially, being able to produce and sell them cost-effectively. Everything else is froth.