An overview of China’s lambda-cyhalothrin technical production capacity, formulation registrations and major exporters

Posted on 2022-06-10
1.Basic Information 
Lambda-cyhalothrin was developed in 1984 by a team from A.R. Jutsum and was promoted in 1985 by ICI Agrochemical (now owned by Syngenta) in Central America and Southeast Asia. Its mechanism of action changes the neurilemmal permeability of insects, inhibits insect axon conduction, and destroys the function of nerve cells by acting on the sodium ion channel, therefore, making poisoned insects overexcited and paralyzed and leading to a quick death. Lambda-cyhalothrin has a broad insecticidal spectrum, high activity and a long-lasting effect, and is suitable for controlling pests that affect wheat, corn, fruit tree, cotton and cruciferous vegetables.
Figure 1   Structural formula of lambda-cyhalothrin
2.Toxicity and Control Target  
Lambda-cyhalothrin has both contact toxicity and stomach toxicity and functions as a phobotaxis, but it is not systemic. It is effective in controlling chewing mouthparts, such as lepidoptera larvae and some coleopterans, while being effective against pierce-sucking mouthparts, such as pear psylla. Its main targets of control in terms of lambda-cyhalothrin include sitodiplosis mosellana, armyworm, corn borer, beet armyworm, budworm, tortricid, noctuid, swallowtail, fruit-piercing moth, cotton bollworm, pink worm and cabbage caterpillar. In addition, lambda-cyhalothrin can be used in grassland, meadow and dryland crops for controlling meadow moth. Its seasons for application are as follows: China, mainly from March to August; South and North America, March to May and September to December; Southeast Asia, December to May; and Europe, March to May and September to December.
3.Synthesis process and major intermediates
1)Synthesis of cyhalothrin
2)Synthesis of cyhalothrin oil
Kungfuyl chloride, 3-Phenoxy-benzaldehyde and sodium cyanide are synthesized under the action of catalysts, resulting in cyhalothrin oil.
3)Synthesis of lambda-cyhalothrin
Under the action of organic amine, cyhalothrin oil undergoes epimerization, forming lambda-cyhalothrin.
4.The Chinese Market 
As per China Pesticide Registration Watch, until May 20, 2022, there are 42 existing lambda-cyhalothrin technical registrations and 1 technical concentrate, being registered at the contents of 81%, 95%, 97%, 96% and 98%, of which a larger number of registrations are for 95%, 96% and 98%. Chinese manufacturer’s capacity rankings are shown in Table 1. 
Table 1: Lambda-cyhalothrin Technical Capacity in China
China’s lambda-cyhalothrin formulation registrations cover both single agents and mixtures. Single-agent formulation covers 2.5%, 2.7%, 5%, 25 g / L ME, 5%, 10%, 25 g / L, 2.5% EW, 5%, 2.5%, 25 g / L, 50 g / L EC, 25%, 10%, 2.5% WP, 2.5%, 10% and 25 g / L CS. The mixtures are mostly combined with abamectin fine powder, emamectin benzoate, thiamethoxam, imidacloprid, acetamiprid, phoxim, triazophos,  d-trans-tetramethrin and pymetrozine, covering 2%, 3%, 5%, 10%, 22%, 44% EW, 16%, 20%, 25%, 26% EC, 15%, 22%, 30% SC, 2%, 5%, 10%, 12%, 30% CS, 2%, 4% GR, 4.5%, 22%, 24% and 30% WP. 
5.The Overseas Market 
1)Overseas Formulation Registrations 
Single-agent formulation registrations include 25 g / L, 50 g / L, 2.5% EC, 2.5% and 10% WP. The mixtures include lambda-cyhalothrin 9.4% + thiamethoxam 12.6% CS, lambda-cyhalothrin 1.7% + abamectin 0.3% EC, thiamethoxam 14.1% + lambda-cyhalothrin 10.6% SC, and acetamiprid 2% + lambda-cyhalothrin 1.5% EC.
Syngenta’s mixtures available in the US market are: thiamethoxam 12.6% + lambda-cyhalothrin 9.48%, chlorantraniliprole 9.26% + lambda-cyhalothrin 4.63%, thiamethoxam 0.4% + difenoconazole 0.66% + lambda-cyhalothrin 0.16% CS, and thiamethoxam 6.59% + propiconazole 11.54% + azoxystrobin 13.19% + lambda-cyhalothrin 3.3% (SC + CS).
2)China’s Lambda-cyhalothrin Exports
From 2015 to 2019, a total of 582 companies were involved in exporting lambda-cyhalothrin technicals and formulations. The top 10 exporters accounted for 45% of total exports, over 5 years of accumulative volume, as shown in Table 2.
Table 2: Top 10 Chinese Exporters by Volume
The average technical export volume is 2,400 tons per year, while the peak export volume has reached 3,000 tons. From 2015 to 2019, export volume has increased year by year. The average export volume of formulations is 14,800 tons per year, with a peak export volume of 17,000 tons in 2017. Thereafter, the export volume has remained stable. The average export volume of formulations converted to 100% content is 460 tons per year, with an annual maximum of 515 tons.
From 2015 to 2019, lambda-cyhalothrin technicals and formulations were exported to 77 markets, with the top five being the US, Belgium, India, Argentina and Pakistan. The volume of import from China’s top five accounted for 57% of China’s total export (5-year accumulative volume).
6.Latest Market Dynamics 
According to media reports, on May 7, 2022, a factory belonging to the Indian agrochemical company, Bharat Rasayan, which mainly produces pyrethrin products and related intermediates, caught fire following a boiler explosion.
India is one of the world’s major producers of generic pesticides, with a relatively large production capacity of the key intermediates of pyrethrin products, which are methyl 3,3-dimethylpent-4-enoate and 3-Phenoxy-benzaldehyde. In 2021, Bharat Rasayan exported more than 6,000 tons of pesticide technicals, formulations and intermediates, 61% of which are technicals, 13% are formulations and 26% are intermediates, being mostly the intermediates of pyrethrin products. The product, 3-Phenoxy-benzaldehyde, is an important intermediate for synthesizing pyrethroid insecticides, for which China has a demand of 6,000 tons each year, nearly half of the 3-Phenoxy-benzaldehyde procured from India.
Export of Bharat Rasayan in 2021
Considering the fact that China’s lambda-cyhalothrin market is set to end, and since the Indian company whose factory caught fire is not a major manufacturer of 3-Phenoxy-benzaldehyde, which is the intermediate of lambda-cyhalothrin, the impact on the Chinese market is rather small.


Source: Sino-Agri Leading Biosciences
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