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Agrimarketing : November December 2009
Pioneer Hi-Bred's introduction of its new Y Series soybean seed was its largest and most successful commercial product launch in a long string of winners over the company's 83-year history. For its achievement, the judges (see page 30) named the new Y Series Agri Marketing magazine's 2009 "Product of the Year." For good reason. The highly competitive soybean seed market (one industry observer reports there are 70 companies selling soybean seed) rep- resented nearly $3 billion in sales in 2009, on 75.7 million acres. "The launch of the Y Series helped increase Pioneer brand market share by 2%, totaling 27% for the 2009 season," reports Don Schafer, Pioneer's Senior Marketing Manager. The clear market share leader in soybean seed sales, industry insiders report the next closest competitor brand has an 18% share, the third place brand is at 10%. Pioneer got into the soybean business when it purchased the Peterson soybean brand in 1975 and the product line was changed to Pioneer in 1983. "We took over the market share lead in 1989," Schafer reports. "Overall, the Pioneer soybean brand has gained market share 10 of the past 12 years." Schafer, a 28-year Pioneer veteran says, "We sold nearly nine million units of the Y Series in the 2009 season and expect to have 25 million units available for 2010. In total, Pioneer currently offers over 50 Y Series soybean varieties across North America. In recent years, Pioneer has introduced about 20 new varieties each season." ABOUT THE Y SERIES An innovation used by Pioneer researchers, called the Accelerated Yield Technology (AYT) system, was key in developing the Y Series line. The proprietary molecular breeding techniques of the AYT system enable Pioneer scientists to rapidly scan and identify native genes associated with high yields. This allows the com- pany's breeders to select for these valuable genes as they develop experimental varieties, accelerating their development and commercial release. "In addition to yield, the Y Series also incorporates agronomic and defensive, or pest resistance, traits to protect that yield potential," says Dr. John Soper, Pioneer 's Senior Research Director, Soybean Product Development. Those pests vary across the country and examples include Phytophthora root rot, soy- bean cyst nematode and sudden death syndrome. It's also important to select for agronomic traits such as strong early spring emergence and harvest standability. In addition to defensive traits, Pioneer researchers used the AYT system to intensively mine the proprietary soybean germplasm base to select for enhanced and valuable agronomic traits, such as good emergence score. "Everyone wants a racehorse in a racehorse year --- in other words, a product that produces very high yields given ideal growing condi- tions," Schafer contends. "But we don't always have a racehorse type of growing season. Look at this year. The moisture and cool temperatures in many areas really brought out the agronomic and disease challenges. Our Y Series varieties not only carry high yield potential, but also the traits to help protect yield by limit- ing the damage being inflicted on the crop." For more about the AYT system, see page 40. "Because of the delayed harvest, we only have preliminary yield information but the information is very encouraging with 3% to 5% yield advantage versus all competi- tive products. Our advantage versus RR2Y is even greater," Schafer says. The Y Series includes products from Group 0 through Group VII and are sold in all soybean growing areas Pioneer serves in North America which stretches from Manitoba to Louisiana and all points east. The Y Series also includes five low linolenic varieties for 2010 planting. The oil produced from low linolenic soybeans enables food companies to offer healthier alternatives for consumers. Produc- ers in selected areas of the country can contract to grow low lin varieties for a premium. THE PROCESS Although the company markets globally, it must think locally. Pioneer has 13 soybean research 32 Agri Marketing November/December 2009 2009 PRODUCT OF THE YEAR NEW PRODUCT LAUNCH YIELDS SUCCESS by Lynn Henderson, Editorial Director g g g located in the company's headquarters lobby. (L to R) Don Schafer, Dan Buck, Lou Ireland, Senior Marketing Communications Manager and Doug Mertz, Events & Trade Show Manager.
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