Arable News

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A direct approach to agchem sales

Rotam is offering its range of sulfonylurea herbicides for sale direct to farmers in the UK

Claimed to be the fastest growing agrochemical company in the world, Rotam is offering its range of sulfonylurea herbicides for sale direct to farmers in the UK. Dominic Kilburn finds out why.UK growers and agronomists can now benefit from ordering a range of sulfonylurea (SU) herbicides direct from agrochemical company Rotam, rather than through the main distributor groups that traditionally dominate the supply of agrochemicals to farms in the UK.And, promising an ultra-efficient next day delivery service, this novel route to market is heralding a new dawn in the way agrochemicals are bought and sold in this country.Rotam’s commercial and marketing manager, Chris Pye (left) makes no bones about the decision to market its SU products in this way, pointing out that they represent a genuine opportunity for growers to have greater choice in a sector of the market offering few alternatives. “We initially planned to supply SUs through major distributors, some of which helped us develop trials work for product protocols,” says Chris. “However, for one reason or another, it became clear that it would not be possible for us to do that,” he explains.”But being an innovative company, the Board gave me the freedom to team up with a logistics partner in order to deliver to farms direct,” adds Chris, who joined Rotam in 2012.
Following a successful trial of the system in 2014, the new purchasing channel is available ahead of weed control programmes this spring.According to Chris, an independent agronomist or farmer will make a recommendation for one of its SU products such as Ergon (metsulfuron-methyl + thifensulfuron-methyl) and send it to their local buying group, or machinery ring in the Borders or Scotland, which, in turn, will communicate the order to Rotam’s logistics partner Killgerm Chemicals. Alternatively, the order can be sent direct to Killgerm from the farm if preferred and any order that is received by 12 noon will arrive on farm the next day.According to Chris, as well as this direct route for purchasing agrochemicals, Rotam’s SU products will still be supplied through some regional distributors in England, while, in Scotland, the five main machinery ring co-operatives will perform the same role in the chain as the buying groups in England.
“We pride ourselves in delivering product efficacy, an independent market stance and extensive after-sales support,” he points out.His view is supported by the largest machinery ring co-operative north of the border, Ringlink Scotland, which has in excess of 2,700 members, and which will be working in partnership with Rotam in delivering its range of SU herbicides direct to farmers.”We’re delighted that Rotam will provide Ringlink farmers direct access to the supplier which, in turn, will deliver significant cost savings to end users,” says Ringlink managing director Graham Bruce.
“The association between Rotam, independent agronomists and machinery rings is an excellent example of mutuality and beneficial collaboration, which offers the supplier an effective trading platform and allows the member to benefit from an attractive and extremely competitively priced service.”We look forward to developing a long-term working partnership with Rotam and its associates,” he adds.Serious about SUs
Differentiating the business from ‘copy-cat generics’, Chris points out that Rotam invests around 10 per cent of its turnover into research and development  – a level on a par with the major ‘discovery’ businesses. “The UK has a unique regulatory hurdle when it comes to the ALS inhibitor group of herbicides called a ‘Joint Application’. When bringing an ALS product to market you have to be able to prove, through field trials, that it is safe when used in tandem with other ALS herbicides, in a tank mix or in sequence, as well as on following crops when they are subsequently drilled.”We are the only off-patent manufacturer that does this, and, although the market didn’t initially see us as a serious competitor, we completed the majority of our Joint Applications for products over a year ago,” Chris commented.”We now have a full range of SU herbicides for the UK cereal broad-leaved weed control market which will match other products available and make us a serious competitor,” he adds.As well as a full range of SUs, including its latest product Hiatus (thifensulfuron-methyl + tribenuron-methyl), Rotam also has a significant share of the UK tebuconazole market – a difficult product to formulate and keep stable, says Chris. “Our goal is to be as least as good with all our products as original manufactured products, but it’s important to understand, for example, that for multi-active SU products Rotam manufactures complete formulations rather than blends.”We analyse formulations and build them from scratch – it’s not a case of ‘cutting and pasting’ products as they come off patent. We are applying 2015 technology to original chemistry that may have been first formulated over 15-20 years ago.”We listen to the market’s agronomic needs, generate our own data, see how we can optimise product use and make them user-friendly,” he concludes.Rotam FactsRotam manufactures agrochemicals at two sites in China, one in Taiwan.The company aims to have a $1 billion turnover by 2020.It is one of the largest suppliers of agrochemicals in China.10 per cent of its turnover is invested in R&D.Rotam operates in over 60 countries worldwide.It’s SU herbicide line up consists of Ergon (metsulfuron-methyl + thifensulfuron-methyl); Boudha (metsulfuron-methyl + tribenuron-methyl); Hiatus (tribenuron-methyl + thifensulfuron-methyl) and Savvy Premium (metsulfuron-methyl).


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