Illinois Fertilizer & Chemical Association
Supply · Service · Stewardship

Are Ag Retailers on the Road Back to Normalcy?

For the world-at-large, 2020 was definitely not the norm. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic across the globe kept things from operating as they normally would in virtually every sector of life. In general, the agricultural industry was able to continue its business activities without too much disruption. However, when all was said and done, the ag retailers that make up the CropLife 100 still did see their annual revenues for 2020 fall 1.9% to $31.7 billion, according to the 2020 CropLife 100 Survey.
In truth, there were hints that the ag retail marketplace would take some kind of financial hit earlier in the year, when CropLife® magazine conducted its regular CropLife 100 Mid-Year Survey. We started this now annual survey about a half-dozen years back, when it became clear that market conditions from the beginning of a growing season to the end could rapidly change. This survey represented our attempt to get a more complete picture on the entire growing season rather than just to recap its completion.
In the 2020 CropLife 100 Mid-Year Survey, when respondents were asked how they expected the upcoming growing season to ultimately play out on a revenue level, 45% thought the year would rate as “average,” falling between a five and a seven on a scale of one to 10 (with one being “poor” and 10 being “great”). Another 20% believed 2020 would rate on the “poor” side of financial scale, between one and four. The remaining 35% were more confident, rating 2020’s financial outlook between an eight and a 10.
But not to sound too cliché, what a difference a year can make! According to the 2021 CropLife 100 Mid-Year Survey, the nation’s top ag retailers are feeling much better about the road ahead for the rest of this year when it comes to agricultural fortunes. In fact, the vast majority, 55%, rate the financial outlook for the rest of 2021 between an eight and a 10 — “near great to great” in plainer English. Another 30% believe the year will rate between a five and a seven — likely strong enough for most companies to make up some of the lost revenues from the 2020 growing season. Only 15% are expecting the 2021 growing season to be “poor” in terms of finances, rating the year between one and four on the 10-point scale.
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