Bayer CropScience to acquire biological pest control firm AgraQuest

Bayer CropScience, a crop science company part of German chemicals and pharmaceuticals group Bayer AG (ETR:BAYN),announced it would acquire US AgraQuest Inc, a supplier of biological pest management solutions based on natural microorganisms, for nearly $500m (€397m).

Under the signed agreement, Bayer CropScience will pay a purchase price of $425m and additional earn-outs for AgraQuest, as it aims to build a top technology platform for green products and to boost its key fruits and vegetables operations. The move would also ensure opportunities in other crops and markets, Bayer CropScience said.

The German company, which generates over 25% of its sales from the fruits and vegetables sector, wants to boost revenues from this market to €3bn by 2020 and the purchase of AgraQuest, which expands its biological pest control portfolio, is part of that growth goal, CEO Sandra Peterson commented.

In turn, AgraQuest expects to be able to develop revolutionary, tailor-made biological solutions with the support of Bayer CropScience, while its products would be sold globally, CEO Marcus Meadows-Smith said.

Davis, California-based AgraQuest has a state-of-the-art biopesticides production facility in Tlaxcala, Mexico and an R&D site in its home town, and employs around 250 full-time staff.

Its products, including brands Serenade, Rhapsody, Sonata and Ballad fungicides and Requiem insecticides, will complement Bayer CropScience’s sector portfolio. The US firm sells its products in more than 30 countries aiming at market segments such as fruits and vegetables, broad-acre crops, post-harvest protection, turf, home and garden and animal

The transaction needs to secure clearance from the relevant authorities before it can wrap up.

Sainsbury’s Help Farmers Go Green At The Bath And West Agricultural Show

Sainsbury’s has outlined a major initiative at the Bath and West show to help farmers go green, prevent tonnes of carbon from being wasted while also saving thousands of pounds in fuel and energy bills.

Experts from Sainsbury’s agriculture team held an industry-leading seminar for delegates at the show, including the President HRH, The Countess of Wessex, to present findings from a farm carbon footprinting project – the largest of its kind to be undertaken by a UK retailer. Sainsbury’s is keen to use the results to support farmers, suppliers and growers and identify where changes can be made to reduce carbon emissions and outline where best practice can be shared.

Since 2007, farmers in the Sainsbury’s Dairy Development Group have used new techniques to reduce their emissions by almost six per cent, which equates to over 42,000 tonnes of carbon or 108 million car miles. Collectively this has saved farmers £1.2 million in energy bills since 2007.

Speakers at the seminar included Sainsbury’s Property Director Neil Sachdev, Head of Agriculture Annie Graham and Paul Crewe Head of Engineering, Energy, Environment and Sustainability. The audience also heard from one of Sainsbury’s dairy farmers, Robert Reader, about the steps he has taken to ‘green up’ his farm.

Neil Sachdev, Sainsbury’s Property Director, said: “We’ve invested a lot of time to help minimise the impact Sainsbury’s has on the environment. Some of what we’ve trialled has made a real difference to our energy consumption and we want to give the knowledge that we’ve built up to farmers to help them reduce their energy consumption and, in turn, save some money.”

Sainsbury’s has Development Groups for all of its farmers – from pork to dairy – allowing them to work closely on issues such as the environment and animal welfare. Farmers have said that saving energy and reducing their impact on the environment is a top concern, so this event presented a unique opportunity to share the results of the carbon footprint initiative and outline new ideas.

Local farmer Robert Reader said: “The seminar presented a good opportunity to share ideas and techniques on the new processes that I have introduced on my farm. The evidence gathered by Sainsbury’s and the different techniques to reduce carbon have not only improved the efficiency of my business, but it has also significantly reduced my carbon footprint and costs.”

Green techniques have been trialled and implemented by Sainsbury’s in its stores and depots. For example, new biomass boilers that burn wood pellets in instead of gas can generate up to 30% of a stores energy requirements and a biomass combined heat and power generator allows a store to generate not only all of its own heat but also much of its own electricity.

The seminar also discussed other measures including using different types of grass, solar panels, rainwater harvesters that provide water to flush the toilets, low flush toilets, waterless urinals and self-closing taps. ‘North lights’ which are windows that specifically face north and are designed to maximise daylight, automatic light dimmers to reduce energy use on brighter days and energy monitoring via web-based technology that shows how much energy is being consumed in each part of a building was also discussed.

Sainsbury’s is one of the key sponsors of the Royal Bath & West Agricultural Show. The Sainsbury’s stand has an area where local farmers could meet with buyers and visitors could see an interactive ‘Field to Fork’ display, which demonstrates where food comes from and the process it goes through from farming to appearing on supermarket shelves. Regional suppliers have been showcasing great local produce, such as sausages, tomatoes, chicory and celeriac and the Sainsbury’s ‘Try Team’ have been cooking up quick and easy recipes such as omelettes and salads.