Several studies have been undertaken surrounding the growth of the biopesticide market in recent years, either by market research firms or by agriculture industry organizations. In many cases, widely divergent statistics have been offered for the size of the biopesticides market.
The reasons why estimates vary so dramatically mirrors the diversity of product category itself: While the category “biopesticides” can include such sub-categories as microbes, biochemicals, plant growth regulators, insect growth regulators, beneficials, essential oils, pheromones, minerals, etc., not all research uses the same criteria to define the market. Similarly, biopesticides are used in food crops, turf and ornamentals, forage and pastureland, public health, and forestry. Just as the market research varies by the types of biopesticides it examines, so too does it vary by use. Despite these differences, however, the growth of the biopesticide market is a consistent message that comes through in most studies.
With that caveat in mind, in 2006, Arysta LifeScience estimated the worldwide biopesticide market at approximately $541 million. A 2008 study released by Global Industry Analysts, Inc. (GIA) estimated that biopesticides represented about 3% ($750 million ) of the overall pesticides market and was likely to reach the $1 billion mark by 2010. Key factors in this growth include a larger overall investment in biopesticide research and development, a more established application of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) and Integrated Crop Management (ICM) concepts, and increased area under organic production.
Perhaps the single most important factor in the growth of the biopesticide market is advancements in biopesticide technology. Extensive and systematic research has resulted in enhancements to formulation techniques, the ability to manufacture biopesticides through mass production, increased storage and shelf life capabilities, and improved application methods. By extension, increased knowledge among end users has contributed to increased adoption. As the cumulative proposition offered by biopesticides has become better understood – resistance management benefits, residue management benefits, enhanced yield and crop quality, labor management benefits, and oftentimes enhanced control when used alongside traditional chemicals – farmers in conventional programs are becoming more receptive to trialing and implementing biopesticides.
Biopesticides are used most widely on specialty crops. A BCC Research Corporation study released in 2006 estimated that orchard crops hold the largest share of biopesticides use at 55%. Biopesticides are also used on non-food crops such as forage crops, as well field crops such as corn and soybeans. This class of products also has important applications outside of production agriculture in the areas of public health and forestry.
A 2009 report from research firm Frost & Sullivan says increasing demand for chemical-free crops and more organic farming has led to augmented usage of biopesticides in North America and Western Europe. It put the value of biopesticides in those combined markets at US$594.2 million in 2008 and forecast that market to nearly double by 2015 to a market value of $1.02 billion.