Biocontrol market now worth over 1.6 billion Euro, but EU policies are a bottleneck to unlocking full potential

The International Biocontrol Manufacturers Association (IBMA) member survey shows that the biocontrol market in Europe is now worth over 1.6 billion Euro representing almost 10% of the European crop protection market. Even though, in Europe, it takes up to 10 years for a new product to be approved and available for use, the biocontrol market has doubled since 2016 and grown by 20% between 2019 and 2022.

The results of this survey signal the pressing need for an EU-wide definition of biocontrol and a fast-track authorisation process for biocontrol products. IBMA is working to put this on the agendas of the Strategic Dialogue on the Future of Agriculture as well as the European Commission Work Programme.

Jennifer Lewis, IBMA Executive Director

(Brussels, 23 April 2024) The IBMA member survey, carried out at the end of 2023, revealed the biocontrol market continues to grow in Europe and is now worth over 1.6 billion Euro. The biocontrol market has doubled since 2016 but growth slowed between 2019 and 2022, a reflection of current European Union authorisation processes that mean innovators must wait up to ten years for biocontrol products to be approved and available for use by farmers.

This must change to fully unlock the potential of biocontrol and stimulate further growth. Farmers in the US and Brazil wait two or three years for a full safety evaluation and final permit for use compared to the ten year wait European farmers face. This makes Europe unattractive for new investment, jeopardizes job growth in the green economy and puts European farmers at a competitive disadvantage.

Despite bureaucratic barriers, the European biocontrol market has a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of nearly 10% whereas the conventional crop protection market has a CAGR of approximately 4%. This growth rate reflects the demand and need for effective and environmentally friendly pest and disease control particularly given the decline in availability and effectiveness of many chemical solutions. A previous IBMA survey showed there are over 100 substances in the biocontrol pipeline due to be submitted into the approval process before 2028. Once in the farmer’s toolbox, they can provide effective pest and disease control on over 28 million hectares of which 23 million are arable crops, supporting Europe’s food security and strategic autonomy.

All four biocontrol categories (Microbials, Natural Substances, Semiochemicals, Invertebrates) are growing. Invertebrates have grown most with an estimated 65% increase in sales volume since 2019, which is to be expected as the authorisation process is significantly shorter. The Natural Substances category has grown the most in terms of absolute value, increasing by 168.3 million Euros since 2019. This category tends to be an entry point for manufacturers extending their product portfolios to include biologicals.

In addition to providing input to the Strategic Dialogue on the Future of Agriculture, IBMA has called on the next political leadership of the European Commission to ensure fast access to biocontrol solutions while ensuring safety for farmers, consumers and the environment by providing for an EU wide definition of biocontrol. Learn more about IBMA asks for the next European Commission Work Programme.

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