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MANA - A Hybrid Crop Protection Solution

06 April 2011

When you think of a post-patent company, do you think generic in every way? Not anymore - MANA Crop Protection has a business model that offers growers a hybrid approach to crop protection - lower prices, but with the service and research growers have come to expect from the major crop protection companies, writes Sarah Mikesell, senior editor of TheCropSite.com.

With global headquarters in Tel Aviv, Israel, MANA boasts the largest portfolio and is the largest manufacturer of post-patent crop protection products in the world. With an office in Raleigh, North Carolina, MANA has easy access to the American farmer.


Dave Downing, herbicide product manager for MANA Crop Protection

"We manufacture more than 60 different products for market," said Dave Downing, herbicide product manager for MANA Crop Protection at Commodity Classic in Tampa, Fla. "We have an extensive portfolio of crop protection materials, including herbicides, insecticides, fungicides and plant growth regulators that are mature products, many of which are post-patent, but we also market proprietary products as well."

A combination of post-patent and proprietary products is where the "hybrid" starts to come in. A portion of the MANA portfolio is products that the major manufacturers have carried but no longer want to maintain or support. In some cases, MANA's purchase and continued offering of a product to growers in the US and across the globe fills a supply need where the product would have otherwise been dropped from the market entirely.

Product Support

One thing that has scared some growers away from generic or post-patent products is the question of what happens if something goes wrong. Will a generic company back their brands?

"Product support is the one thing that we believe really separates us from other generic companies in the world," Downing said. "We will not bring a product to the marketplace unless we have tested that product at least two years on the ground, and in the area we intend to sell it, which is not typical of most post-patent companies."

He said others will source product out of China, India or Pakistan and bring it directly to market without testing. MANA has an extensive product development team as well as a sales team located across the country to service any issues.

Seem unusual? That's why MANA calls itself a hybrid - they are not a pure post-patent company. MANA field trials their products with universities and cooperators, spending several million dollars annually testing their brands.

"A grower can rest assured that when our products come to the marketplace that they have been tested in geographies where it will be used commercially," Downing added.

Improved Formulations

According to Downing, many times MANA's formulations are a significant improvement over the original registrants, which may not have changed for 20 plus years.

"We bring new formulations to market that are often superior to the original registration," he said. "Growers can spend the same or less and get an even better product."

Distribution

MANA uses the same distribution system that virtually any of the large crop protection manufacturers use. Growers can purchase MANA products at their independent or cooperative dealership or anywhere that they currently buy crop protection products today. All distribution channels have access to MANA products; growers just need to ask for MANA brands.

Over the Generic Hurdle

MANA provides a list of their brands side-by-side with the original manufacturers' brand, so that a grower can match up with the products he's familiar with.

"For example, Tilt, a Syngenta product, is sold by MANA under the brand name Bumper," Downing said. "Bottom line, we offer the active ingredient at a better value, and in some cases, with an improved formulation, so at the end of the day that grower can keep more money in his pocket, that's the whole concept."

Downing also noted he believes that growers are really over the hurdle when it comes to embracing generics in the marketplace.

"Just as everyday consumers have embraced generic pharmaceuticals when looking to save dollars filling a prescription, growers are more frequently asking about post-patent alternatives in crop protection. Growers have been using generic glyphosate for years," Downing said. "And they've built a comfort level with post-patent brands as a result. MANA offers numerous post-patent products at a great value, while consistently maintaining the high level of quality growers have come to expect."

New Products for 2011

MANA will continue to bring, on average, three to five off-patent brands into their portfolio each year.

"We're bringing Rule this year which is rimsulfuron, the active ingredient that growers recognize as DuPont's Resolve. Also, Ironclad is another one we're bringing to market this year - a combination of rimsulfuron and nicosulfuron - that would be similar to DuPont's Steadfast. We're also bringing Incognito, a new fungicide brand for white mold control in soybeans."

Protected Acre Initiative

The MANA Protected Acre initiative is a proactive, comprehensive approach to a season-long crop protection program that protects a grower's crop from weeds, diseases and insects by strengthening his input dollars.

"A grower typically has a budget for his annual crop protection - in corn, maybe $45/acre. The concept is simply to invest the same amount of money that's in a grower's budget, but get considerably more out of those same dollars," he said.

Using the original manufacturer's products, a grower may put down a pre-emergent herbicide, come back with glyphosate, a strobilurin fungicide, and maybe another application for insects - but he's maxed out his budget at that point.

"We're saying take that same $45 investment and get two or three more applications to close the gaps that you have in your crop protection program," noted Downing.

"When you plant the seed, you'll never have more opportunity for yield - the day you plant it - and from then on, it's being eaten away by unseen diseases and insects. Growers can close the yield gap for the same amount of money, by converting to a portfolio that gives you more value-added opportunity."

Protect Your Investment

With high commodity prices, growers are more encouraged to fill every yield gap they can. However, as Downing emphasized, the Protected Acre concept is just as applicable if not more so when commodity prices are low.

"When commodity prices dip, the ROI on every application across the field becomes more difficult to pencil out, but given the rising cost of seed, it's that much more important to protect every bushel and every acre of opportunity."

"Regardless of commodity prices, we're asking growers to start treating their crop like the high-value crop that it is - like a lettuce, carrot or strawberry crop. Growers of those crops wouldn't think of missing an application. Yet, corn and soybean growers are leaving gaps in their yield opportunity every year," Downing said.

April 2011

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