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Agricultural Surfactants Market Size, Share & COVID-19 Impact Analysis, By Type (Cationic, Non-Ionic, Anionic, Amphoteric), By Application (Herbicides, Fungicides, Insecticides, Others), By Crop Type (Cereals & Grains, Fruits & Vegetables, Others), and Regional Forecast, 2020-2027

Last Updated: May 06, 2024 | Format: PDF | Report ID: FBI100392



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The global agricultural surfactants market size was USD 1,392.8 million in 2019 and is projected to reach USD 1,927.5 million by 2027, exhibiting a CAGR of 5.1% during the forecast period. North America dominated the global market with a share of 41.85% in 2019.

Surfactants are known as surface-acting agents that reduce the water surface tension. In agriculture, surfactants help the farmers to use pesticides more effectively and efficiently to obtain superior crop protection. According to the European Union statistics, France’s pesticide sales were estimated to be around 82 million kg in 2018. Agricultural surfactants are additives that are used in agrochemicals to advance the effectiveness of agricultural pesticides. The increasing demand for agrochemicals favored by the adoption of precision farming and cultivation is likely to drive the market growth.

Technological advancement in the agriculture industry, mainly in the field of genetic crop improvement, is likely to support market growth. The increasing demand for bio-based surfactants over synthetic products owing to their low toxicity and eco-friendly biodegradability properties is likely to propel the overall market growth.

COVID-19 Impact: Unavailability of Agrochemical and Agricultural Supplies Have Affected the Agriculture Sector

Agriculture is one of the prime GDP contributing sectors of global economies. Lives and livelihoods are at a high risk amidst the pandemic. The spread of the infection is slower in certain countries, whereas in some countries it is rapidly resurging. The code of conduct and rules imposed by the World Health Organization and other regulatory authorities have led to a temporary regulated shutdown of every service and manufacturing processes, except for the emergency response and essential services. This has resulted in a high rate of unemployment, financial losses, and disruption in the food supply and demand chain, which further may result in food insecurity.

Vulnerable groups like small farmers, laborers, migrants, and other daily wage workers have been affected severely due to the pandemic. The unavailability of the workforce, agrochemical products, and agricultural supplies have affected the agriculture sector largely. The anxiety of uncertainties linked with the supply of agricultural products has resulted in the restriction of import as well as export in many countries.

The unavailability of raw materials and chemicals has ultimately slowed down the production of agricultural surfactants. According to a forecast by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) for 2020/21, the world is expected to have a comfortable food cereals supply and demand situation. Still, the market shall experience lingering effects of the pandemic for a few more months.


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Development of Bio-based Surfactants to Augment Growth

Recent studies have shown the negative impact of synthetic agricultural surfactants on the environment as well as humans. There has been significant development in the field of green chemistry that helps in reducing the carbon footprint. Recently, scientists have developed a solution to create bio-surfactant. This is expected to help practice sustainable agriculture. According to the innovative research project led by the University of Portsmouth, the bails of rice straws can be used to develop a bio-surfactant that can be used in a wide variety of products that generally contain synthetic surfactants. Agricultural waste like rice straw has been used to develop a sustainable solution for agricultural surfactants. Additionally, it can also prove to be an economical solution, as the raw material used is primarily agricultural waste.

In June 2019, Evonik developed sustainable surfactants for crop protective solutions. The company developed benign surfactants that provide environment-friendly crop protection benefits. The newer surfactants comply with sustainability, eco-toxicological, and safety criteria. Furthermore, the company introduced bio-degradable and sustainable adjuvants that are wetting agents and versatile additives based on trisiloxane polyglycerol esters and sophorolipids. The products have been launched under the brand name BREAK-THRU SD-260 and BREAK-THRU S-101. 


Increasing Need for Crop Protection to Aid Market Growth

There has been a significant increase in the demand for food owing to the rapidly increasing global population.  According to research conducted by the Food & Agricultural Organization (FAO), the land for cultivation is shrinking and is likely to cause food production distress in the forthcoming years. Modern techniques of farming and a higher rate of adoption of pesticides and insecticides are anticipated to reduce the food demand and supply pressure by yielding high produce.

The increasing prevalence of various crop diseases and insect attacks has propelled the need for higher yields and to further ensure the production of a superior quality crop. This has ultimately boosted the demand for pesticides and insecticides. For instance, in June 2020, locusts swarmed in huge numbers in many countries including Kenya, India, Pakistan, Ethiopia, Uganda, Somalia, Iran, Yemen, and others causing high destruction and damage to crops. Whereas, agricultural surfactants are additives that are used in agrochemicals to improve the effectiveness of the pesticides. They offer low toxicity to the plants and superior dispersing agent that will favor the market growth

Pesticides are mainly designed to control disease, pest, and weed that negatively impact the crop output. Also, companies are increasing the performance and safety of crop protection by offering a wide range of active ingredients. For example, Solvay offers active ingredients that are suited for crop protection. The company is offering and developing Soprophor, Rhodiasolv, and other range of products that are used for sustainable agriculture practice.


Limited Usage of Chemical Insecticides and Pesticides Likely to Hamper Market Growth

The shifting preference of consumers towards food products with minimum chemical residues have significantly limited the use of chemical pesticides and insecticides, which ultimately has hampered the demand for agricultural surfactants. The increasing awareness among consumers about the adverse effects of some of the chemical content of pesticides and other agrochemicals is negatively impacting the market. Additionally, the increasing demand for organic pesticides and fertilizers has adversely affected the demand for chemical pesticides and other agrochemicals.

Genetically modified (GM) seeds are used in the production of the agricultural crop. The growing utilization of GM seeds as they offer increased yield with fewer pesticides and agrochemicals usage may restrict growth in the market. However, the increasing R&D activities and technological advancement to develop green and safe surfactants for agriculture is expected to be an opportunity for manufacturers to strengthen their positions.


By Type Analysis

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Non-ionic Segment to Dominate the Market Share  

On the basis of type, the agricultural surfactants market is segmented into cationic, anionic, non-ionic, and amphoteric.

The non-ionic segment accounted for the major share in 2019 and is likely to remain dominant during the forecast period as these are the neutral type of surfactants and do not have any change on the hydrophilic end. These surfactants are widely used in herbicides owing to their good dispersing ability, lower toxicity, and stability in cold water. It is mainly compatible with water-soluble insecticides, plant growth regulators, fungicides, and herbicides due to its surface tension reduction and contact with individual spray droplets properties.

The anionic segment includes surfactants with a negatively charged hydrophilic end. Some of the anionic functional groups at the hydrophilic ends of surfactants are sulfates, sulfonate, phosphates, and carboxylates. They create foams that lower the interfacial tension between the liquids and further increases the spraying, wetting, and dispersing ability of the agrochemicals. They increase the herbicide uptake and lowers the surface tension resulting in easier spreading of agrochemicals.

Amphoteric surfactants or zwitterionic surfactants have two oppositely charged ions at the hydrophilic end. They have cationic and anionic centres attached to the same molecule. These surfactants improve the dispersing, emulsifying, absorbing, spreading and pest-penetrating properties of pesticides or herbicides. These factors are likely to contribute to the growth of the segment during the forecast period.

By Application Analysis

Herbicides Segment Accounted for the Major Market Share in 2019

Based on application, the market is segmented into herbicides, fungicides, insecticides, and others.

The herbicides segment is expected to hold a major share during the forecast period. Herbicides are often termed as weed killers and are special formulations used to control the unwanted plants in farms. They further aid in killing the specific weed species without harming the desired crop. They are generally applied before the emergence of weeds or post-emergence. Herbicides are blended with surfactants to increase the spraying ability, which ultimately helps in the application having large surfaces. This increases the workability and reduces the wastage of herbicides. The growing demand for herbicides from forestry to suppress the hardwood varieties favoring conifers, pasture systems, and managing the wildlife habitat areas shall drive the market growth.

Insecticides are one of the widely used agrochemicals used to protect crop yield from unwanted insects and pests. The high demand for insecticides is substantially increasing the demand for surfactants that are used to ensure proper application and dispersion of the insecticides. The high agricultural productivity since the last decade has led to the development of enhanced insecticides. Surfactants aid in the emulsifying, dispersing, and spreading properties of insecticide that proves beneficial during pest control.

By Crop Type Analysis

Cereals & Grains Segment Dominated the Market in 2019

The market by crop type is segmented into cereals & grains, fruits & vegetables, and others.

The cereals & grains segment accounted for a major share in 2019. Herbicides enriched with surfactants are extensively used to protect cereals & grains from crop disease and other insect attacks. The growing incidence of insect attacks is likely to drive the segment growth during the forecast period.

The fruits & vegetable segment is expected to gain momentum in the forthcoming years. This is attributable to the wide use of surfactants such as detergents for removing farm chemicals


North America Agricultural Surfactants Market Size, 2019 (USD Million)

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North America is likely to account for the major share in the global market during the forecast period. The region stood at USD 582.4 million in 2019. A large manufacturing base for agrochemical is expected to boost the agricultural surfactants market growth. The U.S is one of the largest food crop-producing countries, and the technological advancement in modern farming methods in the country has boosted the demand for agrochemicals. The use of fertilizers and pesticides to produce higher yields with minimum crop loss is likely to fuel the demand for chemical surfactants. Moreover, high R&D to develop better, sustainable, and enhanced agricultural surfactants by organizations like the Food & Agricultural Organization and World Health Organization is expected to impact the regional market growth positively.

Agriculture is one of the prime occupations across Asian countries. High demand for food grains and other agricultural produce from densely populated countries like China, India, Bangladesh, and other Asian countries is driving the demand for agrochemicals. Agrochemicals support in obtaining high yield and eliminate potential crop damage threats like insect attacks, molds, and crop diseases. China is the leading food crop-producing country in the world. The growing demand from Asian countries for pesticides is further anticipated to boost the regional market.

Several government initiatives and subsidies provided to support agriculture and increase crop production are expected to support the market growth in Asia-Pacific. For instance, in October 2020, the Government of India advised the agrochemical producers to come out with new molecules of global standards for farmer’s assistance. The state minister of agriculture stated the need for crop protection by manufacturing newer, more protective, and safer agrochemicals for the benefit of farmers. This shall positively impact the Asian market.

High demand for agrochemicals from European countries is expected to drive the market for agricultural surfactants. Europe is one of the major producers and exporters of grains, fruits and vegetables. The increasing adoption of pesticides, fertilizers, and other agrochemicals is anticipated to boost the market growth in this region. The region is one of the leading producers of grapes, which involves the use of pesticides and fungicides. This is expected to create a positive impact on the market.

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South America is anticipated to be the fastest-growing market attributed to the high demand from countries like Brazil, Argentina, and others. The high agricultural producers, Brazil is one of the densely populated countries in the world and needs ample food produce to sustain. The shrinking of cultivable land and increase in usage of pesticides is anticipated to drive the product demand.

Africa is estimated to showcase considerable growth attributed to the adoption of modern farming methods. Additionally, the increasing population of Africa is expected to raise the demand for food produce further driving the demand for agrochemicals. However, the Middle Eastern countries are expected to show sluggish growth attributed to the lack of cultivable land and extreme weather conditions.


Acquisition and New Product Launch are the Key Strategies Adopted by Most of the Players in the Industry

The market is consolidated with the presence of numerous local and international players operating in the industry. Some of the major players are BASF SE, Helena Chemical Company, Wilbur-Ellis Company, Nufarm, Evonik, and others. Most of the manufacturers are expanding their business by obtaining strategies such as new product launches, acquisitions, capacity expansion, R&D investment, and partnerships to gain a competitive edge in the market.

  • October 2018: Croda International launched and certified its ECO range of bio-based surfactants. The new 100% bio-based and renewable range of non-ionic surfactants is the widest commercially available. Additionally, it is certified to meet the criteria of the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) BioPreferred program.

Also, some of the agrochemical manufacturers are witnessing profitable growth rates in the crop protection business. For example, in September 2018, the Nufarm crop protection business generated around USD 3.12 billion, and the sales were up by 6% in FY 2018 where the company’s herbicides sales were up by 8% in the same year.


  • BASF SE (Ludwigshafen, Germany)

  • AkzoNobel (Amsterdam, Netherlands)

  • Evonik (Essen, Germany)

  • Solvay (Brussels, Belgium)

  • Huntsman Corporation (Texas, the U.S.)

  • Nufarm (Melbourne, Australia)

  • Clariant (Muttenz, Switzerland)

  • Helena Chemical Company (Tennessee, U.S

  • Croda International (Snaith, UK)

  • Wilbur-Ellis Company (San Francisco, the U.S.)

  • Stepan Company (Florida, the U.S.)

  • Nouryon Company (Amsterdam, Netherlands)

  • Other Key Players


  • September 2020 – BASF Care Chemicals North America raised the prices of certain sulfate, fatty alcohol, and betaine product lines by USD 0.02 to USD 0.09 per kilogram. Betaine amphoteric surfactants are commonly used in shower gels, bath soaps, shampoo, and skin cleansers.

  • September 2020 – Stepan Company acquired sulfate production equipment and surfactant business from Clariant in Mexico. This acquisition will help Stepan’s growth strategy in the Latin American region and enhance the growth in the surfactants business.


An Infographic Representation of Agricultural Spray Surfactants Market

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The market research report provides a detailed analysis of the market and focuses on key aspects such as leading companies, product types, and leading application of the product. Besides this, the report offers insights into the market growth trends, competitive landscape, SWOT analysis, and highlights key industry developments. In addition to the aforementioned factors, the report encompasses several factors that have contributed to the growth of the advanced market over the recent years.

Report Scope & Segmentation



Study Period


Base Year


Forecast Period


Historical Period



  Volume (Kilo Tons); Value (USD Million)


 Type; Application; Crop Type; and Geography

By Type


  • Cationic

  • Non-ionic

  • Anionic

  • Amphoteric

By Application


  • Herbicides

  • Fungicides

  • Insecticides

  • Others

By Crop Type


  • Cereals & Grains

  • Fruits & Vegetables

  • Others

By Geography


  • North America

    • By Type

    • By Application

    • By Crop Type

    • By Country

      • The U.S.

        • By Application

      • Canada

        • By Application

      • Mexico

        • By Application

  • Europe

    • By Type

    • By Application

    • By Crop Type

    • By Country

      • Germany

        • By Application

      • UK

        • By Application

      • France

        • By Application

      • Italy

        • By Application

      • Spain

        • By Application

      • Rest of Europe

        • By Application

  • Asia Pacific

    • By Type

    • By Application

    • By Crop Type

    • By Country

      • China

        • By Application

      • India

        • By Application

      • Japan

        • By Application

      • South Korea

        • By Application

      • Rest of Asia Pacific

        • By Application

  • South America

    • By Type

    • By Application

    • By Crop Type

    • By Country

      • Brazil

        • By Application

      • Argentina

        • By Application

      • Rest of South America

        • By Application

  • The Middle East & Africa

    • By Type

    • By Application

    • By Crop Type

    • By Country

      • South Africa

        • By Application

      • Saudi Arabia

        • By Application

      • Rest of Middle East & Africa 

        • By Application

Frequently Asked Questions

Fortune Business Insights says that the global market size was USD 1,392.8 million in 2019 and is projected to reach USD 1,927.5 million by 2027.

In 2019, the market value stood at USD 1,392.8 million.

Growing at a CAGR of 5.1%, the market will exhibit steady growth in the forecast period (2020-2027).

The herbicide segment is expected to be the leading segment in the market during the forecast period.

The rising demand for bio-based surfactants over synthetic products owing to their low toxicity and eco-friendly biodegradability properties is a key factor driving the market growth.

BASF, Clariant AG, Helena Chemical Company, and Wilbur-Ellis Company are few of the leading players in the global market.

North America dominated the global market in 2019.

The increasing demand for herbicides for crop protection shall drive the product demand.

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