Providing end-to-end solutions to the agrochemical customer base is moving from the realms of theoretical utopia to leading competitive differentiator for groundbreaking players in the sector. Within five years solution provision should be the norm, not the exception, according to a new report from Promar International, a food and agricultural strategic consultancy. Mirroring developments in the information technology sector, in which market demand rapidly moved suppliers from single PC provision to network business management, farmers are now demanding far more from leading agrochemical suppliers than simply pesticides and seeds. Those agrochemical companies still standing in five years time will be those that can deliver value to customers at the beginning and end of the production process as well at all points in-between.

Having just emerged from a round of consolidation, groundbreaking players -- which include Aventis, DuPont and Monsanto -- are still reeling from the rationalization process. Customer pressure for a fundamental change in the concept of agrochemical supply is not necessarily welcome at this stage. But, welcome or not, it exists and those organizations best able to respond will be the commercial winners by 2005. With the industry in such a state of flux and uncertainty, indeed, groundbreakers will never have a better opportunity to burst clear of the pack and establish themselves as true solutions innovators. With the impending formation of Syngenta from the agribusiness divisions of Novartis and Zeneca, the market leader will be struggling with administration, management and accounting issues, the time is ripe for a rival groundbreaker to steal the solution provider clothes.

"Although massive commercial opportunity awaits the company that can offer solutions across the board, organizations are hanging back and waiting for someone else to take the lead -- and make the mistakes," says Catriona McLees, a consultant with Promar International and author of the report. "Nobody wants to be a pioneer, everyone wants to be a settler of cultivated ground. For the company with the nerve to take up the challenge and build learning relationships with consumers the future is very bright indeed. Not only will the lead company have first bite at the solutions provision cherry, but they will also define the strategic landscape on which all other agrochemical companies, groundbreakers or not, have to compete."

Comprising profiles of 18 players in the agrochemical sector and strategic analysis of the agrochemical commercial environment in which they operate to 2010, Promar's report is entitled Beyond Life-science and available for 8,500 pounds.