Global Agricultural Surfactants Market Size and Share Analysis 2023-2028
An agricultural surfactant can be defined as a substance that reduces the surface tension of the liquid in which it is dissolved, acting as an additive used in agrochemicals to enhance the efficiency of pesticides.
The Agricultural Surfactant Market is estimated to have a size of USD 1,910.85 million in 2023 and is projected to reach USD 2,642.70 million by 2028, exhibiting a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 6.70% during the forecast period (2023-2028).
USD 1784.7 million in 2021
Type, Application, Substrate, Crop Application, Region
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The agricultural surfactant market was significantly impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak, with regions like North America witnessing the effects of the pandemic, including sudden shutdowns, disrupted supply chains, and government-imposed restrictions. However, the market has shown resilience and adaptability, with an increasing focus on the usage of biobased surfactants, resulting in investments within the industry.
Agricultural surfactants primarily find application in water-based herbicide spray solutions, as they enhance the emulsifying, dispersing, spreading, wetting, and other surface-modifying properties of liquids. Surfactants are commonly included in herbicide treatment solutions to improve spray droplet retention and facilitate the penetration of active ingredients into plant foliage. The growing adoption of precision farming and protected agriculture has contributed to the increased usage of agricultural surfactants.
With the global population increasing at an exponential rate, approximately 200,000 individuals are added to the world’s food demand on a daily basis. Over the past century, the human population has nearly quadrupled and is projected to reach 9.2 billion by 2050. This rapid growth poses a significant challenge in supplying food to meet the global demand. Furthermore, there is a decrease in farmland per capita, from 2,200 m² in 2005 to an expected 1800 m² by 2030. In addition, crop pests account for 10-16% of global crop losses annually, exacerbating the situation. Consequently, farmers are increasingly adopting crop protection as a key strategy to meet the rising food demand worldwide, which directly drives the agricultural surfactant market.
The market is segmented based on various factors, including type, application, substrate, crop application, and region.
Segmentation by Type
Segmentation by Application
Segmentation by Substrate
Segmentation by Crop Application
Crop-based – Grains and Cereals, Oilseeds, and Fruits and Vegetables
Non-crop-based – Turf and Ornamental Grass and Other Crop Applications
Segmentation by Region
North America – United States, Canada, Mexico, and Rest of North America
Europe – United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Russia, and Rest of Europe
Asia-Pacific – China, Japan, India, Australia, and Rest of Asia-Pacific
Latin America – Brazil, Argentina, and Rest of Latin America
Middle East and Africa – South Africa, GCC, and Rest of Middle East and Africa
The non-ionic segment holds the largest share in terms of value in the market, primarily due to its increasing usage in combination with agrochemicals. This segment reduces surface tension, enables better coating of leaves, improves nutrient uptake, and helps control pest infestations. In 2022, the non-ionic segment was valued at USD 650.5 million, and it is expected to reach USD 949.3 million by 2028, growing at a CAGR of 6.3% during the forecast period. Non-ionic surfactants are widely used because of their compatibility with most pesticides and their ability to enhance the effectiveness of herbicides by improving leaf coverage and uptake. They are commonly utilized for general spreading and wetting in agricultural applications. The non-ionic category dominates the market and is often used in herbicide formulations due to its low toxicity, stability in cold water, and effective dispersing properties.
The synthetic segment holds the highest value share in the market, mainly due to the availability of chemical agrochemicals that can be blended with synthetic surfactants. This combination facilitates the delivery of chemical ingredients to target plant sites, resulting in enhanced crop production and reduced disease infestation. In 2022, the synthetic surfactant segment was valued at USD 1,441.3 million and is projected to reach USD 2,109.4 million by 2028, growing at a CAGR of 6.4% during the forecast period. Synthetic surfactants find applications as wetting agents, dispersants, and emulsifiers. Dispersants and emulsifiers provide stability to agricultural input formulations, while wetting agents act as co-adjuvants for various crop treatments. When used with agrochemicals, synthetic surfactants help improve the efficiency of plant protection products, growth regulators, biostimulants, fertilizers, and deficiency correctors. Various surfactants compatible with different agrochemicals can be formulated based on their desired functions.
The herbicide segment holds the highest value share in the market, primarily because surfactants can be easily blended with herbicides to improve spraying ability and enhance their mode of action on weeds. This results in more effective application on large surfaces and reduced herbicide wastage. In 2022, the herbicide segment was valued at USD 766.4 million and is expected to reach USD 1,120.6 million by 2028, growing at a CAGR of 6.4% during the forecast period. The herbicide surfactant segment accounted for 42.9% of the agricultural surfactant market in 2022. With the growing market, companies are focusing on innovative ways to use adjuvants with herbicides. For example, ADAMA’s 8317 Oil Concentrate is a blend of light agricultural spray oil and a surfactant specifically designed for use with herbicides. Blending herbicides with surfactants improves workability and reduces herbicide waste.
The grains and cereals segment of the agricultural surfactants market has been valued at USD 705.5 million in 2022, and it is expected to reach USD 1,058.1 million by 2028, growing at a CAGR of 6.9% during the forecast period. Grains and cereals are affordable sources of carbohydrates that are grown worldwide to meet increasing demand. Agricultural surfactants have gained popularity in grain and cereal crops as an alternative to conventional chemicals, forming an integral part of integrated crop management practices. Post-emergence herbicides play a crucial role in cereal crops, where early weed control significantly impacts subsequent crop growth. Surfactants, along with herbicides and other solutions, are commonly used to control and eliminate weeds in cereal crops. The use of surfactants and herbicidal applications has contributed to improved crop production in grains and cereals.
The Asia-Pacific region holds the highest value share in the agricultural surfactants market, primarily due to the increasing adoption of precision farming and the rising demand for agrochemicals such as insecticides and herbicides. The enhanced usage of surfactants in blending to improve crop yield is particularly important in regions with declining arable land. In 2022, the agricultural surfactants market in China was valued at USD 141.4 million, and it is expected to reach USD 210.4 million by 2028, growing at a CAGR of 6.6% from 2023 to 2028. Government initiatives aimed at enhancing crop yield and ensuring a stable supply of raw materials for the feed, food, and biofuel industries are driving the growth of the agricultural surfactants market in China. Urbanization has led to a decline in arable land in the country. For instance, according to the World Bank, China’s arable land decreased from 119,474,700 hectares in 2018 to 119,473,100 hectares in 2020.
North America holds the largest share (35%) of the agricultural surfactant market. The region is expected to grow steadily during the forecast period, supported by various government initiatives to increase yield and ensure a continuous supply of raw materials for the food, feed, and biofuel industries. The growth is further propelled by the increasing usage of bio-surfactants and the abundance of raw materials. However, environmental concerns and health and safety issues may hinder market growth. There is an opportunity for surfactants used as lung surfactants in the treatment of Neonatal Respiratory Distress (NRD) syndrome. Within North America, the United States dominates the market due to the expansion of industries like personal care and food processing.
The agricultural surfactants market exhibits a fragmented nature with several key players implementing various strategies to expand their presence in new regions. These strategies include acquisitions, new product launches, expansions and investments, agreements, partnerships, collaborations, and joint ventures. Market leaders also prioritize investment in research and development activities. Prominent players in the market include Evonik Industries AG, Dow Corning Corp., AkzoNobel NV, and Solvay SA (Belgium). BASF SE, a global manufacturing giant, offers an extensive range of agricultural surfactants. Their product portfolio encompasses over 30 adjuvant products, including surfactants under different brands. These surfactants consist of both ionic and nonionic types, and blend formulations further enhance their efficacy in boosting crop productivity.
Key Companies Profiled in this report include Corteva Agriscience, Evonik Industries, BASF SE, Akzonobel, Solvay SA, Wilbur-Ellis Company, Croda International PLC, Huntsman, Nufarm Limited, Helena Chemical Company, Air Products and Chemicals, Kao Corporation, Clariant, Lamberti SPA, Brandt Consolidated Inc., Interagro (Uk) Ltd, Tanatex Chemicals BV, Garrco Products Inc.
Recent Industry Developments
In March 2022, Dow introduced a product extension of VORASURF™ Silicone Surfactants to cater to the escalating need for improved energy efficiency and sustainable solutions in the rigid polyurethane foam market. The focus of this extension is specifically on spray and construction applications.
In September 2021, BASF raised the prices of non-ionic surfactants in response to the growing demand in the agricultural input sector, which includes herbicides and insecticides.
In March 2021, BASF entered into two distinct partnership agreements aimed at expanding its leading position in the market for bio-based surfactants and actives.
Key Questions Answered
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