The seed sector is one of the critical agricultural inputs required by growers to produce crops for food, animal feed and non-food use. With the global population expected to reach 9.8 billion by 2050, changing climate and constraints on available land areas for cultivation, the need for cost-effective seed technology is increasingly essential in sustainable agricultural production strategies.
The total seed market comprises the conventional seed segment and the genetically modified (GM) seed segment. The former is a global market, the latter is firmly established in North and South America and some parts of Asia but largely absent in Europe, where consumer and regulatory barriers have prevented its uptake.
Future developments in the seed market, driven by GM traits, new breeding technologies or new non-GM technologies, are crucial in delivering the necessary improvements in yield, nutritional value, tolerance to drought and stress.
Key facts about the Seed and GM Crops market
- In 2021, the market for commercial seeds grew by 7.1% over 2020, reaching an estimated value of $47,242 million. Of this total GM seed sales increased by 11.6% to reach approximately $21.8 billion.
- Despite just having 19% of the crop area, GM seeds accounted for 46% of the commercial seed market sales in 2021.
- Herbicide tolerance is the most common trait among GM crops, present either as a single, multiple HT or stacked trait. HT traits have been very successful, especially in corn, cotton and soybeans. In the USA, planted areas of HT varieties/hybrids have plateaued at ~90% for each of these three crops, and there is similarly high uptake in Argentina and Brazil.
- 100% of the GM traits in the seed industry pipeline for the next decade include input traits for sustainability. However, companies are refocusing on traits for food security, bioenergy, and consumer and processor needs, mainly through gene-editing.
- Area under GM seeds has been stagnant between 2014-2022, with growth in the market being driven by innovation and, subsequently, higher seed prices. In the coming year, we expect an increase in area under GM crops due to the adoption of GM technology in new crops and countries due to the following: 1. Approval for commercial cultivation of HT-wheat in Argentina 2. Golden Rice in the Philippines, 3.GM cultivation and import approval in Kenya, 4. Nigeria and Ghana, acceptance of the cowpea event for food, feed, and cultivation, 5. Indonesia’s intention to boost soybean production through GM seeds, and 6. possibly the commercialisation of GM feed/biofuel crops in China. The increase in GM area in the coming years will be one of the most significant drivers for the seed market growth in the years to come.
- Our company analysis shows that among the top seed companies, Bayer and Corteva were the most active companies in 2021 with such businesses focusing some investment towards digital agriculture, new product launches, R&D and gene-editing during the year.
- In 2021, North America was the largest commercial seed market with 37% of the worldwide market share, followed by Asia-Pacific 26%, Europe (19%), South America (14%) and the Middle East and Africa (4%). In 2021, the global seed market grew in every region, with North America being the fastest-growing market.