September 15, 2011


Pioneer may jack up corn, soy seed prices



In the process of taking US corn and soy market share from Monsanto Co and other rivals, DuPont's Pioneer seed unit aims to raise prices by next year.


As corn prices stay at all-time highs, the price increase would be in line with the same move the company undertook for the 2011 North American planting season.


Even as flooding, drought and other weather phenomena have hurt parts of the US corn crop, farmer income has continued to rise, buoyed in part by the high corn prices.


That has only increased the appeal for Pioneer's genetically modified seeds, which help farmers fight insects and boost yields, among other benefits.


"In 2011, we met our expectations on price and at the same time delivered market share growth," Paul Schickler, Pioneer's president, said in an interview at Reuters offices in New York. "As we look to 2012, we would expect the same combination to occur."


Pioneer's seeds yielded a bigger share of the US corn and soy market in 2011, though exactly how much won't be known until final USDA figures are released in January, Schickler said.


In 2010, Pioneer had 32% of the US soybean seed market and 35% of the US corn seed market.


Monsanto, one of Pioneer's largest rivals, has had problems recently with corn pests that appear to be growing resistant to the company's popular corn seed product that is genetically engineered to protect against insect damage.


Herculex, an insect-resistant product that Pioneer developed with Dow Chemical's DowAgroSciences unit, is so far working as designed and have not seen evidence of insect resistance, Schickler said. Pioneer's rivals include Syngenta and BASF.

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