New Focus On End User

October 26, 2013 06:15 AM

Targeted investments will boost BASF’s regional footprint, says Markus Heldt, president of the crop protection division.

Written by Jeanne Bernick and Rhonda Brooks

In the crop protection world, the largest chemical company on the planet is looking at the glass half full.

BASF is raising the long-term sales target for its crop protection division and now expects it to achieve sales of more than $8.11 billion by 2015 and $10.18 billion by 2020 (previously $8 billion in 2020).

That growth will come from more investment in production, and formulation capacities will result in a stronger pipeline for crop protection products that are already in high demand, particularly with weed resistance issues in the U.S.

BASF plans to double annual investments in production plants for its Crop Protection division through 2017 and expand its portfolio of solu­tions for farmers around the world, says Markus Heldt, president of BASF’s Crop Protection division. In the U.S., that means additional production capacity in Sparks, Ga., and yet another research and office expansion at its BASF offices in Research Triangle Park, N.C.

"The main factors to increase from our current business level is additional capacity, new products from 2010 to 2020, and the increase of our footprint in emerging markets, such as in India, China, Africa and Latin America," Heldt says.

With the world market for biological crop protection now worth $1 billion and growing up to 15% annually, BASF hopes to be a player in the growing biological market. A newly established global business unit for BASF called Functional Crop Care will expand the company’s portfolio of solutions for growers, adds Jurgen Huff, senior vice president, Functional Crop Care. The business unit was developed on the heels of BASF’s purchase of U.S.-based Becker Underwood Inc., which created a major move for the chemical company into biological seed treatments.

"You take biologicals and apply conventional crop protection technologies, and we get to a doubling of yields in that role," Huff says. "These technologies belong together. It’s not about replacing one for the other. It’s about holistically understanding what our customers need."

BASF is also putting a greater focus on the end user with more field experts/innovation specialists and new apps and data offerings.

"We want our current customers to have a better experience, but also for new customers to have a better experience," says Kaleb Hellwig, BASF Innovation Specialist based in western Missouri. "I deal with large farmers who are producing millions of bushels of corn and soybeans and who have to make multimillion dollar decisions each week. They need resources and tools to make key decisions quickly."

Next spring, BASF will test portable microscopes so that farmers can take special pictures of diseases and insects in their fields and send the photos to their innovation specialists and agronomist for diagnosis and treatment advice. An online library also helps farmers better understand what’s going on in their fields.

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