On August 31, 2017, Dow Chemical and DuPont completed a merger that brings together three massive businesses in agriculture, materials science and specialty products. The plan is to have them operate together as DowDuPont for 18 to 24 months, at which point they will split into three separate companies. Pierre Flye Sainte Marie, head of the Europe, Middle East and Africa region for the Agriculture Division of DowDuPont, explains what lies ahead.
The DowDuPont merger has been complete since August 31, bringing together three main divisions — agriculture, materials science and specialty products. You’re involved with the agriculture division. What changes have taken place there since the merger?
Flye Sainte Marie: The merger brings together the strengths of DuPont Pioneer, DuPont Crop Protection, and Dow AgroSciences to create a world-class agriculture leader with a comprehensive and balanced portfolio and a robust pipeline of innovative solutions across seed, crop protection, seed-applied technologies and digital agriculture.
As a pure play company we can focus all our combined resources on investing in R&D, harnessing our unparalleled agronomic knowledge and science capabilities to develop solutions that help farmers increase their yields and improve their long-term sustainability.
We’re also in the process of integrating our operations and capabilities to create a more efficient organization that can deliver those solutions faster. And we’ve done all that while working with great intensity to assure seamlessness and continuity for our customers. We are progressing well according to our plan. We are already deploying the unified company in Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region.
In EMEA, we have a balanced portfolio, almost 50-50 percent between seeds and crop protection. We have a strong position in corn, wheat, canola, sunflower and specialty crops. We are covering all geographies in the region, we have a footprint in all key countries, and we have very strong teams in Crop Protection and Seeds expertise but also we are good in attracting external talent.
What are the main things that need to be achieved before DowDuPont’s three divisions are separated into stand-alone companies? Will the three businesses maintain cooperation after the separation is finalized?
Flye Sainte Marie: We are progressing according to plan. Our teams are working on building up the necessary capabilities to be able to run a standalone company by the time of the spins.
Today the agriculture division is one of the three divisions of DowDuPont, which serves as a holding company on top of the current Dow and DuPont organizations. During this initial period after merger close, the three divisions are operating under the existing Dow and DuPont corporate structures, as integration work begins.
DowDuPont intends to separate the divisions into three independent, publicly traded companies. Until the spin-out we collaborate, after the spin-out it will be a more business-like relationship. Our goal is to create three strong, global leaders in their respective industries, fully capable of sustainable success over the long term as independent companies.
To be a pure play agriculture company, we intend to bring a broader suite of products to the market, faster, so we can be even better partners to growers, meeting and exceeding their expectations for innovation and helping them to increase their productivity and profitability.”
After the separation, what will be the main differences for you acting as a pure agriculture player rather than part of a corporate?
Flye Sainte Marie: We are bringing together the complementary portfolios and strengths of three separate businesses (DuPont Pioneer, DuPont Crop Protection, and Dow AgroSciences) to become one fully integrated whole — a single global leader focused solely on agriculture. To be a pure play agriculture company, we intend to bring a broader suite of products to the market, faster, so we can be even better partners to growers, meeting and exceeding their expectations for innovation and helping them to increase their productivity and profitability.
The merger has brought together two important agriculture businesses in seeds and plant protection. How are these two parts of the business going to work together? What new innovation are you most excited for out of this collaboration?
Flye Sainte Marie: The agriculture division offers a comprehensive and balanced portfolio, and has a robust pipeline of innovative solutions across seed, crop protection, seed-applied technologies and digital agriculture.
I am talking about 3 pillars. The first is the combination of the crop protection portfolio (Dow Agrosciences and DuPont Crop Protection), which is broadening our offering in the market in herbicides, fungicides and insecticides and will be able to meet customer demand in more geographies and in all key crops.
The second is seeds. The strength of Dow Agrosciences in traits combined with the Pioneer lead germplasm is a huge opportunity.
The third pillar is our integrated crop solutions: to combine seeds, crop protection and services where and when it makes sense.
Our vision is to deliver customized products and services to meet farmers’ needs for each hectare. By combining our Dow and DuPont product lines, we are able to create more comprehensive solutions to help growers meet rising demand sustainably, responsibly and safely.
Another important advantage of consolidating our capabilities is having a broader array of seed and crop protection technology available for testing. Together, we are able to test a wider base of interactions, which will increase predictability and consistency of outcomes for growers.
Looking to the future, we will also be able to provide more value to business partners and grower customers through our digital agriculture offering.
The agriculture division will be in a stronger position to invest in R&D and innovation — continuing decades long legacies at DuPont and Dow of harnessing the power of innovation to deliver value-added solutions.”
The world of agriculture generally is going through a lot of changes. What context does this merger take place in, and where do you see the agriculture business heading in the future?
Flye Sainte Marie: The Agriculture industry is in a period of transformation. Rapid population growth, limited resources, climate change, pest resistance and evolving consumer trends together, require innovation to progress at an equally rapid pace.
One good example is Isoclast™. It is a prime piece of innovation as it is a new and unique class of chemistry which meets two key societal demands: effective solution for farmers while ensuring the highest level of protection to health and the environment. I recognize it is a debate and we are open to the dialogue but we feel proud that research and innovation has brought such new tools to the European market.
The agriculture division will be in a stronger position to invest in R&D and innovation — continuing decades long legacies at DuPont and Dow of harnessing the power of innovation to deliver value-added solutions. We will be better equipped to deliver innovation that meets farmers’ needs for products that can thrive in drought conditions, withstand disease or pest pressures, improve the nutritional value of food, and advance farm sustainability.
It is vital for us to improve productivity in a sustainable way, with a reduced environmental footprint, with regulatory compliance, and with consumer acceptance.
As a unified company, we can help growers produce more and better food, with fewer resources. We do this by bringing to the process improved plant genetics and the next generation of technology to enhance business outcomes for growers.