How Do Generics Stack Up Against Original Crop Protection Products?
When patents expire on crop protection products, generic versions of those products sometimes become available to farmers. Often those generic products are sold at a substantially lower cost than the original brand. But are they as good as the original brand, and what about the level of service and support?
In June of 2023, Stratus completed a survey of nearly 500 Canadian farmers with an average farm size of 2,800 acres. The study examined farmer experience, behaviors, and attitudes about original brands of crop protection products compared to the generic versions. We tested various things that original brand manufacturers could do to maintain sales of their off-patent products, and we measured the uptake of generic brands at various price points and service offerings.
One of the study's interesting findings was that not all farmers are alike in their views of generic products. We found four different segments of farmers, each with a unique perspective.
We identified and labeled the largest group, representing 34% of total crop acres, as the “Fence Sitters” because they lean in favor of original brands but can easily swing the other way. Farmers within this segment were primarily from younger generations and typically managed larger farms. This group is influenced by retailers. They see value in the grower programs manufacturers offer. They seek agronomic support from manufacturers but are not getting enough because they are not as strongly connected to the major manufacturers. This segment would respond favorably to several different types of offers from the original brand manufacturers.
The research shows that farmers generally believe that generics are just as good as original brands. But original brand manufacturers can maintain off-patent product sales by tailoring their offers to differing grower needs.