According to data from Phillips McDougall and KLEFFMANN, the global market value of glufosinate-ammonium, or glufosinate for short, in 2018 was US$750 million, accounting for 10% of the global non-selective herbicide market and 3.2% of the total herbicide market. Other non-selective herbicides with large market shares were glyphosate
(US$ 5.577 billion), paraquat (US$ 1.202 billion) and diquat (US$ 219 million). The global non-selective herbicide market reached $8.5 billion, accounting for 32% of the global herbicide market totaling US$ 23.624 billion.
Increasing global consumption, production capacity of glufosinate
Asia and North America are the main markets for glufosinate and are further divided into the markets of South Korea, the US, Japan, China, Brazil and Canada (see Table 1). The global glufosinate market has obvious regional characteristics. Besides mutual substitution for non-selective weeding, it is also related to the high commercialization of glufosinate-resistant GM crops, such as soybean, corn, rape and cotton, in these countries. Glufosinate in Latin America (Brazil and Argentina) has a market value of some $66.71 million and a consumption of 1,454 metric tons. This market is growing steadily, despite its minor global share.
Table 1: Sales of Global Glufosinate Market in 2018 (by Region)
In 2018, the largest amount of glufosinate was used on rape fields worldwide, reaching 2,752 metric tons, followed by soybean fields with 2,279 metric tons, and cotton fields with 1,345 metric tons. The glufosinate used in these three crop fields accounted for 46% of the total market, and the market concentration of these three major crops has increased significantly, and their application on industrial crops and sectors unrelated to agriculture has grown steadily.
The global production capacity and output of glufosinate in 2019 were 40,600 metric tons and 38,500 metric tons, respectively, and average compound growth rate from 2015 to 2019 was 38.36% and 42.58%, respectively. Manufacturing facilities are mainly located in Germany, the US, China and India (see Table 2). In 2019, the effective production capacity of glufosinate in China reached 32,000 metric tons, accounting for about 60% of global capacity. The release of production capacity outside China in the future will be limited, with India maybe producing 10,000 metric tons. According to announcements related to new production capacity by manufacturers, China will dominate the release of glufosinate production capacity.
Table 2: Effective Global Production Capacity and Output of Glufosinate in 2019 (metric tons)
Prohibition of paraquat, promotion of GM crops will drive further growth of glufosinate market
The policies to ban and restrict paraquat in China are a direct factor in the considerable growth of the glufosinate market in China. Thailand officially announced a ban on paraquat in June 2020. Brazil may also implement the ban on paraquat formally in September 2020, which is the rough deadline for banning all paraquat products in the Chinese market. It is estimated that 14,000 metric tons of paraquat will be banned globally. Glufosinate is worth 2.8 times the cost paraquat in terms of cost per hectare, and will replace glyphosate at a ratio of 6:4. Together, with the amount of glyphosate to be limited and banned, it is estimated that the additional demand for glufosinate arising from the substitution will exceed 4,000 metric tons in 2020. In the long-term, the ban on paraquat in many major agricultural countries will drive a considerable demand for glufosinate.
Glufosinate is traditionally used for controlling weeds in orchards, rubber plantations, non-arable land, and no-till land. Since 1995, glufosinate resistant and multi-resistant GM crops have been successively promoted and applied on a commercial scale, especially in field crops, such as soybean, rape and cotton. The market demand for glufosinate was 8,000 metric tons in 2018, and is expected to maintain a 5% growth rate in 2020, an increase of some 1,000 metric tons.
Combinations of glufosinate with, for example, glyphosate, fluoroglycofen-ethyl, haloxyfop-P-methyl, flumioxazin, diuron, simazine and MCPB, can meet more weeding needs. According to data on exports and international demand, the demand for combined formulations of glufosinate has maintained a growth rate of about 4.3%, and additional demand is expected to be around 3,000 metric tons in 2020.
Market growth rate will remain at about 5% in the coming five years
Generally speaking, the global demand for glufosinate will continue to grow in the future, both in terms of volume and value. It is estimated that the global demand will exceed 40,000 metric tons, and market sales will reach $1.05 billion in 2020. On the premise that global supply and demand are relatively stable and the commercial synthesis technology related to glufosinate and L-glufosinate are still unable to make progress, the price fluctuation range of glufosinate is expected to be between RMB100,000 and RMB130,000 per metric ton.
Considering the rising global demand for agricultural products and growing population pressure, the global agricultural development will rely more on plant protection products, such as glufosinate. The ban on paraquat, the planting of glufosinate-resistant crops, combined formulations and other factors have increased glufosinate demand. It is estimated that the global glufosinate market will grow at a rate of 4.5% to 5.0% from 2020 to 2025.