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DuPont Seed Strategy Unruffled By Rival

DuPont does not plan to alter its pricing strategy in key North American corn and soybean markets despite moves by rival Monsanto to ease prices for some products, a DuPont official said May 4.

James Borel, who oversees DuPont’s production agriculture businesses, including corn and soybean seed developer Pioneer Hi-Bred, said in an interview DuPont would not increase net prices in 2010 as much as the double-digit gains in 2009, but price gains would continue.

“We’ll watch what Monsanto does,” Borel said. “But I’m sure it won’t affect what we do with pricing. We’ve been using a consistent strategy for pricing. Prices go up because we’re delivering more value.”

Last month DuPont said seed sales in North America grew 15 per cent in the first quarter as it battles for U. S. market share with rival Monsanto.

Borel said market share data will not be known for sure until the spring corn-and soybean-planting season concludes. But he was confident of gains in the North American corn market.

Last month, Monsanto said its share of the corn market was flat compared with 2009 and said it had lost ground in the soybean market. As a result, Monsanto has indicated to investors and farmers it will limit pricing for its newest lines of SmartStax corn and Roundup Ready2Yield soybeans.

Borel said DuPont was seeing good results from a beefed-up sales team that now totals about 4,000, and plans to continue to grow the sales force.

The company also sees customer gains in the launch next year of its Optimum AcreMax I product. DuPont announced May 3 the Environmental Protection Agency had approved the product, which offers drought , herbicide and pest resistance. The product is the EPA’s first approval of an in-the-bag solution for required insect refuge management.

Borel said reports of persistent and spreading weed resistance, mainly to glyphosate-based herbicides, were helping spur sales of two new soybean herbicide products – Envive and Enlite. The products, which were introduced last year, are sold out entirely this season, according to Borel.

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