Apple Grower Market (Washington, Michigan)
Crop advisors and pest control advisors carry out similar roles in advising and educating farmers and growers regarding optimizing production. Both are governed by ethical constraints that any relationship around product promotion and marketing must comply with. There is a scarcity of information available in respect of this information. However, the information regarding the affiliations of the advisors is the same for both roles. Trade Shows are, in many ways, the cornerstone of the agricultural industry's marketing channels. However, COVID-19 has played havoc with the schedule in 2020, and in doing so, has highlighted a new and evolving marketing channel, the educational channel. The details of each of these channels are set out below, alongside several insights relating to maximizing the benefits of each of the channels. Unfortunately, the companies detailed in the strategy document did not offer the required bio fungicide products for powdery mildew. There were, in fact, few true competitors for Wilbur-Ellis in this product range. Valent, Bayer Crop Sciences, and Oat Agrio all offer similar products. Details relating to each company and the products they offer are detailed below.
CERTIFIED CROP ADVISORS INSIGHTS
Role of Crop Advisors
- Crop advisors can work with growers and help them to improve their crop yield by offering advice to help them maximize growing conditions. They are considered experts in soil fertility, pest management, weed management, and seed selection. They are also up to date in farming and technological developments and advances.
- There are several benefits that a grower can experience by working with a crop advisor. These benefits include:
- Assisting growers to increase their profits by using inputs efficiently and focusing on profitability, rather than the cost of inputs;
- Managing the risks associated with their crop by decreasing expenses and mistakes, and assisting them to reach professional performance benchmarks that are well-established within the industry;
- Advising growers on long-term business planning relating to land management;
- Providing growers with "on-demand" access to current and up to date technical knowledge and farming techniques; and
- Helping to implement practices that will ensure that both yields, resources, and profitability.
Marketing and Promotions Involving Crop Advisors
- In addition to advising growers, crop advisors are allowed to sell products that will help growers achieve their goals. This means that there is a potential marketing opportunity for those manufacturing products that will improve crop production or assist in managing pests. In relation to apple growers, this would include bio fungicides and products managing powdery mildew.
- There are several relevant provisions in the code of ethics of crop advisors pertinent to the sale of products to growers. Essentially, crop advisors are allowed to recommend products that are in the best interests of the grower, but they must disclose to the grower if and how they are being compensated for making the recommendation.
- It is important to note that a range of companies in the agricultural industry seek crop advisors to promote their products. This has resulted in many crop advisors feeling that they are being placed under increasing pressure to sell products rather than fulfill other aspects of their jobs. Considerations should be given by companies to address this issue when considering this as a marketing option. It is important that the crop advisors chosen to promote a companies product align with the product positioning the company if the relationship benefits are to be maximized.
- Any products that are recommended by crop advisors would need to be appropriate and have proven efficacy. This means that before approaching crop advisors, it is important that any company seeking to develop a relationship with the crop advisor would be best served if they have product information and data around efficacy so that the advantages of the product can be clearly identified. For most companies, this information would be part of their product development process, so it would not be overly arduous to produce.
Affiliated and Non-affiliated Crop Advisors
- Affiliated Crop Advisors have a formalized relationship with a particular company or product, and receive a payment in the form of either commission or a retainer to fulfill this role. This relationship would, of course, have to be disclosed in any ongoing dealings with the apple growers.
- One of the advantages for a company considering creating a relationship of affiliation with a crop advisor is that there is exclusivity can be worked into the contract negotiations, ensuring that the only products presented in relation to a particular aspect of the business are that of the affiliated company. One of the advantages of this relationship is that an investment can be made in the crop advisor to ensure that they are up to date with the companies latest technologies.
- Non-affiliated crop advisors do not have an ongoing relationship with the company and are more likely to recommend several different products to the farmers and growers. This can create a situation where more weight is placed on the recommendation made because they are more independent. The reality is, regardless of whether they are affiliated or non-affiliated, commissions or similar rewards are likely to be paid when they initiate sales.
PEST CONTROL ADVISORS INSIGHTS
Role of Pest Control Advisors
- Pest Control Advisors inspect the crops of the farmer or grower and determine if there are issues with pests, and if so, what pests. They will then give the farmer or grower advice on how the issue can be resolved. This can include recommending products that will be effective in resolving pest issues.
- A pest control advisor will be up to date in the latest developments and technology and be able to offer the farmer or grower advice relating to new developments and technology and how they can be implemented for their land or crop.
- They will work with farmers to determine the most cost-effective ways to manage the land and rid it of pests. They will also assist with organic solutions to problems if required. Pest control advisors will also work with the farmers and growers to train them in new techniques and treatments.
- Finally, pest control advisors may help the farmer or grower develop new fertilizer treatments based on the recommended pest control products.
Marketing and Promotions Involving Pest Control Advisors
- The same considerations and factors that are relevant to crop advisors when using them to market and promote products are relevant to pest control advisors. The details of these considerations and factors are set out above.
TRADE SHOW INSIGHTS
Role of Trade Shows
- Trade shows exhibit the products of a particular industry to the members of the industry to create product awareness, and in the long-term generate sales. Exhibitions are similar in nature but are also attended by the general public. For many farmers and growers, trade shows represent an opportunity to evaluate the different products on the market and to determine if there products or services available that might benefit their operations.
Measuring the Effectiveness of Trade Shows
- One of the key errors many in the agriculture industry make in respect of trade shows is that they fail to measure their effectiveness as a marketing tool, as this should be the true test of whether the company's attendance is beneficial.
- The primary reason for attending a trade show is to generate leads; therefore it stands to reason that this is one of the key metrics that should be determined following a trade show- This information should be used to determine the quality of the engagements throughout the trade show, and inform post-trade show follow up strategies. The simplest way of calculating leads generated is through a lead capture app, of which there are a number available.
- The cost per lead is calculated by dividing the number of leads by the cost of attendance at a trade show. This is important because it allows a company to compare its performance at the trade show against other marketing initiatives and determine its effectiveness and viability.
- The contacts that are made at a trade show should be evaluated over the course of their lifetime as they provide interesting insights into the role of the trade show in marketing and promotion. It is also important to take into account the ratio of new customers to leads generated as this represents a numerical evaluation of the effectiveness of the post-trade show follow-up and interactions. In a nutshell, new clients are the reason a company attends a trade show. Still, if the follow up following the trade show is ineffective, then it not only represents a poor investment but a lost opportunity.
- The networking benefits created by attending trade shows should not be underestimated. First and foremost, in a world where business is increasingly done over the internet or phone, Tradeshows gives all the industry players the opportunity to meet. Despite media protestations to the contrary for many in the agricultural business, this is an important aspect of who they decide to do business with.
- Trade shows have the capacity to introduce products to new markets and different players. The larger trade shows held annually will often see people from all over the US congregate, and it is not just during the course of the show that opportunities present. With many shows, the volume of attendees will see them frequent the local hotels and restaurants for the duration of the show, meaning the opportunity to create new networks and promote products is always close at hand.
- For smaller players, trade shows present an opportunity, unlike many others, for them to showcase their products on the same stage as the bigger players within the industry. Trade shows introduce those within the industry to new products and give the companies that produce them the opportunity to be heard and promote products. It is essential that participants at trade shows maximize the opportunity to ensure the audience has the chance to understand the products and what they offer.
EDUCATIONAL CHANNEL INSIGHTS
A Growing Market
- A recent article in The Good Fruit grower highlighted the changing nature of the apple growing industry, specifically the role that crop advisors and consultants have to play in it. The article discussed how demand from the industry had outpaced the training of crop advisors in relation to apples. It highlighted that the numbers training in this area were insufficient to meet the growing demands of the industry.
- While at face value this may appear to be of little relevance to the marketing channels chosen by industry players, it actually provides some key hints in terms of marketing channels and the opportunities they present. With the supply of crop advisors being insufficient to meet the demands of the industry, educational opportunities such as webinars are becoming an increasingly poplular way for growers to keep up to date with the latest technology and products.
- Companies wishing to explore this marketing channel have th opportunity to engage growers, create brand recognition, and hopefully in the long term new customers by offering educational opportunities to farmers and growers. Webinars are becoming increasingly popular and can be offered either independently or through professional bodies like the Apple Growers Association.
Impact of COVID-19
- The ongoing reality is that COVID-19 has decimated the trade show calendar in 2020. It is possible the majority of trade shows will be back on the calendar next year, but there has also been a considerable amount of rhetoric in a number of trade publications suggesting that the pandemic is a nail in the coffin for trade shows, many of which had been addressing falling attendance rates over the last few years.
- COVID-19 forced the marketers of various industries to reconsider their marketing option. Virtual tradeshows are one option, but marketing through educational channels is a trend that has started ti ain momentum.
- Compared to attendance at a trade show, options like webinars are relatively cost effecctive. Aside from the technical aspects, the cost comes in the time required to prepare and present webinars, and the promotion of these events. Comparatively speaking webinars are relatively cost effective when compared to trade shows.
- They are also a relatively new concept to many of the players meaning they represent an unexplored option.
COMPETITORS OF WILBUR-ELLIS
Unfortunately, none of the competitors listed sold products targeting powdery mildew or a preventative bio fungicide. Upon further investigation, we determined Valent, Oat Agrio, and Bayer Crop Science to be competitors that offer bio fungicides for crop protection against powdery mildew.
- Oat Agrio is a Japanese company, with its headquarters in Tokyo, Japan. The company specialiszes in the development and manufacture of fertilizers and pesticides. Recent acquistitions have given it a foot in the door to the European and American markets, where Oat Agrio has indicated it intends to build the market for its fungicides, which include its Kaligreen product which is a biofungicide that can be used against powdery mildew.
- The revenue of Oat Agrio in 2018 was S144 million. They employ 151 staff.
- Oat Agrio´s products fall into one of three categories; plant protection (medicines for plants), fertiizerand drip irrigation systems (nutients for plants), and biostimulants (increase plant immunity to diesease).
- Kaligreen is Oat Agrio´s offering in the treatment of powdery mildew, offering contact and curative treatment. The product is a contact biofungicide. Its active ingredient is potassium bicarboanate. Kaligreen acts on fungi to disrupt the potassium ion balance in the fungus cell, causing the cell membranes to collapse. The inert substances work for making up the microcapsules of active ingredient in the solution. This micro-encapsulation system helps the active ingredient work more efficiently. "
- Unfortunately, the pricing details are not available on the Oat Agrio website, with interested parties instructed to contact the US distribution network for details of this nature.
- The target audience for Oat Agrio´s products are first and foremost the Japanese domestic market of farmers and growers. However, witht he acquisitin of a large dutch company that services the US market, in 2018, the US farmer and grower is well within the sights of Oat Agrio.
- Advantages associated with Kaligreen include it offers curative treatment and it is an organcic product, so can be used to treat dieseases on organic farms.
- Valent has its headquarters in Walnut Creek, California. With a staff of approximately 750, Valent has an estimated annual revenue of $160 million. There revenue has remained relatively constant over the last four months. The company develops and manufactures products that are designed to protect and enhance crops for the Mexican, US, and Canadian markets.
- The company has products that have use in a number of different crops, including soybean, rice, tree nut, tree fruit, cotton, cereals, vegetables, corn, grapes, and peanuts.
- Actinovate AG Biological Fungicide is the product that is made by Valent that looks to treat powdery mildew and a range of other diseases that attack a range of different crops including apples. Actinvoate AG "colonizes plant structures and attaches to the root zone or foliage to form a defensive barrier around the plant, which in turn keeps pathogens out. Actinovate AG forms a symbiotic relationship with plants and feeds off of the plant waste and secrets beneficial by-products.
- The product is able to be used on organic operations and crops. Another of the advantages of using Actinovate AG is it provides broad spectrum cover for the plants and trees against soil and follicular diseases. Pricing information is not available from Valent. Those interested in their products are directed to either contact a representative or one the retailers.
- Valent leans towards the commercial markets with its products, targeting an audeince of farmers and horticulturists with its products that aim to assist them maximize both their crops and revenue.
Bayer Crop Science
- Bayer Crop Science is a multinational company founded in 2002, with headquarters in St Louis, Missouri. It is the agricultural division of parent company, Bayer. The company currently has around 33,836 employees. Bayer Crop Sciences agricultural products are driven by innovatiovation and ingenuity, The company strives to adopt sustainable practices and transparency across its global operation.
- Bayer Crop Science suffered a $81 million loss in the courts, when it was judged that their Roundup products were responsible for causing cancer in a man. This is on top of a $289 million judgement (reduced to $79 million on appeal) the previous year. Bayer Crop Science has also agreed to pay nearly $11 billion in settlements related to Mosanto, the company they acquired in 2019.
- Unfortunately, the revenue of Bayer Crop Science is not distinguishable from its parent company Bayer. Bayer´s 2018 revenue was almost $46 billion.
- Bayer offers a wide range of products aimed at the health of both people and plants. The crop sicence portfoilo concentrates on high value seeds, chemical and biological pest management, and innovative and modern products that can sustain agriculture.
- In the treatment of powdery mildew Bayer Crop Sciences offers Luna Fungicide for the treatment of powdery mildew. Bayer Crop Sciences claims a competitive edge over other products in the market, with its field testing supporting this conclusion as the below table comparing Bayer´s product to the market illustrates.
- Like the other companies detailed above; Bayer Crop Sciences does not provide a list of pricing options on its website directing interested parties to contact representatives or retailers directly. Its products are aimed at the commercial farmer or horticulturists.