The global specialty fertilizers market valued USD billion in 2023 and is estimated to reach USD billion by 2030, at a high CAGR of 6.8%% during the forecast period. Specialty fertilizers are materials that help enhance the water and nutrient efficiency in farming practices.
These chemicals are formulated to cater to the unique nutrient needs of a particular plant or soil. The application of these materials prolongs the availability of nutrients to plants by controlling the amount of moisture contact with the plant.
The need for crop nutrition has been rising in both food and commercial crops to increase food production and quality of produce. United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization estimated the world will need to grow 50% more food by 2050 to feed an anticipated population of 9 billion people. Nearly one-third of the world’s adequate or high-quality food-producing land has been degraded due to soil erosion resulting from the continual ploughing of fields and over-cultivation. The growing demand for food and depletion of arable land is forcing the farming communities to produce most out of limited resources, thus boosting the need for use of fertilizers. The incorporation of fertilizers witnessed significant growth in fruits and vegetables, cereals, grains, and all other farming practices. However, it is difficult to match the nutrient requirements of plants, and the use of these commodity fertilizers witnesses loss of nutrients into groundwater and the atmosphere. These factors led to the development of specialty fertilizers that through their precise formulation balanced crop nutrition in plants.
The growing demand for crop nutrition and awareness towards the role of nutrients in enhancing farming efficiency is the primary factor driving the growth of the specialty fertilizers market. The development of novel formulations by various research institutes and companies that can precisely balance nutrition by providing controlled release of essential nutrients is also supporting the utilization of specialty fertilizers. According to a field experiment on a research farm of soil science and agricultural chemistry department, VNMKV, the Foliar application of specialty fertilizers on nutrient uptake of Chickpea was found superior for yield and quality of products along with restoration of soil fertility. The capacity of these materials to enhance water-use efficiency is motivating the farming communities towards the use of specialty fertilizers.
Specialty fertilizers also contain a considerable amount of primary, secondary, and micronutrients essential for the growth of plants and thus evolved as an integral part of crop nutrition. Most of the global agrochemical manufacturers are involved in the production of specialty fertilizers and are witnessing lucrative growth in this business.
However, the adverse effects of synthetic specialty fertilizers on the environment is the major restraint for the growth of the market. Several state and federal governments regulated the use of these materials in agricultural chemicals. Also, specialty fertilizers, although give a better yield, are 3-4 times more expensive than commodity fertilizers, which makes it difficult for farmers, especially in developing countries, to adapt. Even from the supply side, entry barriers are higher than commodity fertilizers. According to a publication by GPCA and ICIS, to produce more sophisticated products, greater technical know-how is required for the processes that coat commodity products or produce stabilizers, solubles, and higher value micronutrients
While the global trade came to halt during the lockdowns imposed to control the spread of novel coronavirus, the food and agriculture industry has been impacted by severe freight challenges. The sales in the food industry, particularly in foodservice and HoReCas declined. This weakened business globally imposed a negative impact on the industry. Most of the agricultural and agrochemical products categories including specialty fertilizers witnessed a decline in sales volume due to lack of demand and supply chain disruptions. Asia, Europe, and North America, which are among the most affected regions due to covid 19, are also the most dominant markets for specialty fertilizers market. This further impacted the market negatively. Adding to it, the specialty fertilizers require higher investments than commodity fertilizers, which the farmers, struck by lack of sales weren’t willing to spend. Even from the production side, the R&D was halted which affected the growing specialty fertilizers market, more than others in the industry.
The global specialty fertilizers market has been segmented by type into compound fertilizers, slow-release fertilizers (SRF), controlled-release fertilizers (CRF), stabilized fertilizers, micronutrient fertilizers, and others. Controlled release fertilizers are estimated to grow at a rate of over 6% during the forecast period owing to their high use potential in cereals and grains. With controlled release fertilizers, the nutrient release takes place depending primarily on the soil temperature which means it more closely matches the crop’s nutrient requirement in terms of quantity and timing during the main growing season. With a share of over 80%, dry chemicals evolved as the largest segment of specialty fertilizers. However, the ability of early correction of nutritional shortcomings owing to its quick releasing nature made liquid products the fastest-growing segment.
By geography, the global specialty fertilizers market is segmented into North America, South America, Europe, Asia Pacific, Middle East, and Africa. The Asia Pacific evolved as the largest market for specialty fertilizers owing to the demand for crop nutrition practices in countries such as China and India. In India, it is estimated that the percentage of agricultural workers of the total workforce would drop to 25.7% by 2050 whereas the total population is expected to grow to 1.64 billion. The growing practice of precision farming to enhance water efficiency owing to the increasing food demand and decreasing resources is boosting the need for specialty fertilizers in this region.
Gulf companies are actively pursuing to enter into specialty fertilizers market focusing mainly on the Middle East, North and East Africa, and Indian subcontinent. According to a publication by GPCA and ICIS, the specialty fertilizer market in the GCC region is at a relative infant stage but there are significant opportunities for their production and marketing. The region is already one of the most important for the production of nitrogen and phosphate raw materials and many of the chemical companies in the region are seeking to add value by moving into more specialized and diversified chemistry and production. For instance, Abu Dhabi Fertilizer Industries (ADFERT) can produce around 100,000 tons/year of specialty products, including granular and water-soluble NKPs, liquids and suspensions, micronutrients, and foliar products, and sulfur-coated urea. (SCU)
The high product differentiation in specialty fertilizers fragmented the global market. However, the market is consolidated in most of the product segments with very few players holding a significant share. For instance, the market for controlled-release fertilizers (CRF) is highly consolidated with the top 5 companies accounting for over 60% of global sales. Kingenta Ecological Engineering Co., LTD., Israel Chemicals Ltd., Haifa Group, and The Scotts Miracle-Gro Company are dominating the global controlled-release fertilizers market. The specialty fertilizers market is highly competitive with the likes of new product launches, expansion of production capacity, and remarkable acquisitions.
Kingenta Ecological Engineering Co.:
Founded in 1998, Kingenta Ecological Engineering Co., Ltd. is a Chinese enterprise devoted to the R&D, production, and marketing of specialty fertilizers. Kingenta operates all over the globe with around 10,000 employees in industries and R&D facilities spread across The Americas, Europe, and the Asia Pacific. Kingenta America is a representative office of Kingenta in America, which works on technology R&D, information collection, cooperation and exchanges, and product trade.
The product portfolio of Kingenta Ecological Engineering Co.:
compound fertilizers (CF)
Slow released fertilizers (SRF)
Controlled release fertilizers (CRF)
water-soluble fertilizer (WSF)
efficient enhanced fertilizers
Other specialty fertilizers
Other key players in the market are EuroChem, BASF SE, Soiltech, Yara International ASA, URALCHEM JSC, Sinochem Corporation, RNZ Group, Abu Dhabi Fertilizer Industries (ADFERT), Amega Sciences Inc., and The Mosaic Company.
United States Specialty Fertilizers Market