Armed with 70 years’ experience and an unchallenged position as market leader in off-patent solutions, Makhteshim-Agan, with its 56 companies in over 45 countries with sales in 120 countries, is now focusing on simplicity. Its management have therefore chosen the name Adama, a memorable name that contains both the initials of Makhteshim and Agan and is also the Hebrew word for earth. This new approach is accompanied by two other vital strategies: making life easier for the farmer who is the focus of all decision-making, and turning ADAMA into the world’s leading agridigital brand.
Agriculture Internationale – What was the thinking behind your change of direction?
Ignacio Dominguez* - We realised that the position of generic products leader was difficult to maintain since other companies could offer the same products more cheaply. If someone else’s products were less expensive than ours, how could we possibly maintain our leadership?
We therefore had to reinvent ourselves but how could we reinvent ourselves whilst remaining credible, what type of strategy would mark us out from our competitors and what is it that makes us relevant to the agricultural world? Together with our distributor partners we gave a great deal of thought to how we should be organising our business.
We would have to find new sites in regions such as China, which offers new opportunities for increasing efficiency and cost effectiveness along the value chain with the production of our products portfolio, but also determine what tactics to adopt and how to present our history so that it reflected the strengths of our brand.
Our new brand – Adama – and our new logo were the fruit of this strategic relection. Our hybrid portfolio, which now contains off-patent solutions into which we have introduced innovations, allows our partners to be relevant to the market.
A.I. - Does this new orientation alter the company’s basic philosophy?
I.D. - Firstly, it forces us to conform to the brand we have built up, as well as to the promise we made to farmers and to the market. Moreover, the sole objective of a company cannot be a portfolio of generic solutions.
We are working to expand our business by other means, by accessing the digital world and opening a site in China, which will place a critically important supply chain at our disposal, and also enhance our offer with the innovations that exist in China. It must be remembered that 60% of nanotechnology patents are now Chinese.
A.I. - What benefits do you expect to obtain?
Bertrand Lombard** - Adama’s main ambition is to be recognised on the market as the company that really does simplify life for the farmer. We have carried out a study to discover what constraints affect the work of farmers as they go about their daily round of tasks.
From amongst all their daily complexities, we were able to isolate 9 to which farmers are exposed every day: ease of use, safety of use, insufficient or under-qualified manpower, excessive labour costs, the impartiality of advice, access to information on the use of products, the fight against resistance to disease, and guaranteed effectiveness.
From now on, every time we provide a farmer with a solution to one of these problems, he will immediately understand that it’s an Adama solution: a simple, appropriate solution that generates time and productivity gains.
A.I. - What arguments are you going to use to build a relationship based on simplicity and partnership with the farmer?
Jean-Marc Dardier** - In our motto, “simply grow together”, the word “grow” in English means to grow both in farming and economic terms. However, to make a product that responds to the needs of farmers, which allows their crops and our companies to grow together, we need to meet their needs as fully as possible.
By offering extremely attractive products that meet the complex and multiple needs of farmers, the product will be promoted by the farmer himself and the work of distribution greatly simplified.
Today, since the cost of new molecules has become excessive, additional areas of innovation has had to be stepped up. Thanks to our extremely wide range of products, we are enriching existing molecules with our innovations. This autumn, for example, we are introducing Folpel, a fungicide that allows us to circumvent problems of resistance in cereals, thereby creating a new application for an existing molecule.
We are also offering a computer-operated bleaching agent for pome fruit using, in a fairly narrow window of temperature, humidity and period of application, metamitron, a molecule used in sugar beet, to which we have given a new application through a new formula which gives very accurate bleaching: one fruit out of two or three.
Another example is Trimax, a growth regulator that has an effect equal to that of its competitors, with 10% fewer applications, thus reducing environmental pressure. In addition, we hope to forge a relationship with the farmer based on digital technology, and involving the exchange of information on professional social networks with the aim of being able to discuss our respective know-how and their needs.
So when a farmer finds a new application for a product that results in greater effectiveness for a lower dose, everyone will benefit.
A.I. - Is your use of digital technology the best means of creating and making durable a permanent proximity with the farmer, as well as productive interactivity?
J-M.D - Our strategy is based on 5 realities:
- Social networks are a reality. Not using them would place us at a disadvantage.
- Captors - of geo-positioning, geo-localisation, hygrometry, etc. are a reality.
- “Big data”, that is to say the analysis of large data sets, is vital.
- Mobility. Farmers use mobile phones more than computers.
- Personalisation and contextuality. On a website, the farmer wants to know what the weather will be like in his district, and where the nearest prescribers and distributors are. He should be able to obtain information on the situation of his produce on the markets immediately.
Thanks to this interactivity, it is with the evaluation of our products by our clients that our prescribers will be able to provide the most accurate information and handle the problems their clients encounter in the best possible manner.
*Global Chief Commercial Officer - **South Europe Area Manager - ***Head of Global Marketing.