PilarBio: Unveiling Competitive Microencapsulated Formulations for Global Expansion
Source: | Author:允发生物 | Published time: 2024-01-12 | 20 Views | Share:

PilarBio Group, a company that represents the global pinnacle in the research and development of microencapsulated formulations, recently unveiled its two brands, Pilarcore® and Pilarnano, attracting considerable interest in the market. As a Chinese enterprise dedicated to offering distinctive products and technologies for global agriculture, PilarBio has navigated a remarkable 12-year journey marked by rapid development, while witnessing the agrochemical industry’s evolution. Despite the global market downturn in 2023, PilarBio has remained steadfast to its original commitment, which is ″Do our best in making pesticides, at least be worthy of our time and effort.″ 


The company has consistently improved its product technology and marketing services to achieve double-digit growth in differentiated products. Pilarcore® microencapsulation technology, positioned as an ″umbrella brand,″ has strategically maintained robust growth momentum for the future market growth.


In a comprehensive interview with AgroPages, Mu Canxian, Chairman of PilarBio Group, provided detailed insights into the positioning and development strategy of the two innovative brands, Pilarcore® and Pilarnano, along with PilarBio’s structure in overseas markets. The discussion highlights PilarBio’s extensive explorations in brand building, indicating a promising trajectory towards greater success in the global market.



Mu Canxian, Chairman of PilarBio Group


AgroPages: In 2023, the global agro-inputs market experienced high level of channel inventory and sluggish demand, which impacted the operations of agrochemical companies. What was PilarBio’s overall market performance that year? Which category of products supported annual sales?


Mr. Mu: Reflecting on 2023, the industry's downturn posed significant challenges for everyone, but some companies managed to achieve breakthroughs during those challenging times. 


PilarBio excelled in the domestic market, registering a growth of nearly 10%, which is an impressive feat in the sluggish global agro-inputs market. This success can be attributed to our marketing team’s steadfast commitment to a ″serving end users″ strategy. In terms of overseas markets, despite increased overall quantities and fulfilled orders, net sales witnessed a decrease of over 10%. This decline deviated from our initially anticipated growth of more than 20% and was primarily due to the sharp reduction in prices for certain bulk products.


However, we achieved a growth of over 20% in newly registered innovative and differentiated products. Since 2021, PilarBio has launched around 150 newly registered products in overseas markets annually, and naturally, these new products contributed to a growth of more than 20%. This trend is set to continue in the coming years, when we plan to introduce 150 to 200 registered products to overseas markets annually. Therefore, the growth of PilarBio should be guaranteed.


AgroPages: In 2022, PilarBio launched its microencapsulated product brand, Pilarcore®, across the entire industry. In November this year, PilarBio also officially introduced Pilarcore® and Pilarnano. Could you give a detailed introduction to the overall positioning of these brands and the strategic significance of releasing them for PilarBio? 


Mr. Mu: The Pilarcore® brand is an ″umbrella brand″ of PilarBio, especially for microencapsulation technology. This technology imparts various advantages to every product in the Pilarcore® series, including an extended effective duration, reduced application frequency and less labor. We have narrowed down the unique core value of Pilarcore® to ″Pilarcore®, longer control, easier life!″ The term ″longer″ reflects our dreams, responsibilities and pursuits.


The vision of the Pilarcore® brand is to become a pre-eminent global entity in microencapsulated agrochemicals, while aspiring to embody traits, such as ″specialization, sophistication, uniqueness and novelty,″ on a worldwide scale. Our goal is to position Pilarcore® as a leading global brand, by delivering substantial value to users across the world.



Pilarcore® Introduction and Products


The Pilarnano brand is also an ″umbrella brand″ of PilarBio for nano-pesticide products, representing a broad category of agrochemical formulations featuring active ingredients in nano sizes. Drawing parallels with advancements in nanotechnology within the chip industry, we anticipate a similar trajectory for the development of nano agrochemicals in the future.


Products that utilize Pilarnano technology demonstrate enhanced capabilities in terms of achieving more uniform distribution across the crop surface and boast heightened target carrying capacities. They also exhibit superior absorption by crops, weeds and pests. Analyses of residuals showed that pesticides with nano-sized active ingredients achieve higher concentrations in crops compared to those that are conventional sizes, resulting in prolonged effectiveness at the same concentration. Consequently, nano-pesticides offer the potential to reduce the use rate, typically exceeding a 25% reduction under equal control effects. This not only enhances control efficacy but also extends effective duration, often exceeding 1.5 times the duration under the same use rate. These advantages translate into tangible benefits for users. 


The vision of the Pilarnano brand is to emerge as a key player among global nano-pesticide brands, to enhance the technical level of agrochemical formulations together with our domestic counterparts, spearhead the evolution of global agrochemical formulation technology and generate substantial value for users worldwide.


With the launch of the Pilarcore® and Pilarnano brands, our focus is now centered on the global promotion of these two technologies. Currently, PilarBio has 42 Pilarcore® products registered or those in the process of being registered in China, which are the primary driving force behind the rapid growth of the PilarBio brand. Simultaneously, our company is strategically planning to convert a significant portion of suspensions, oil suspensions, dry suspensions and other product categories into nano-sized particles. Through innovation and technological breakthroughs, we aim to generate greater value for global users and drive the development of the PilarBio brand.


AgroPages: Could you highlight the distinctive technical features and advantages that characterize Pilarcore®? Additionally, in your opinion, what drives the core competitiveness of Pilarcore® in the global market?


Mr. Mu: The Pilarcore® technology stands out as a quintessential example of microencapsulation, characterized by its fundamental principles of controlled release, precise release and targeted release. For example, Pilarcore®’s ″Staged Release Technology″ for insecticides plays a pivotal role in extending the effective duration of products. Meanwhile, the ″Wait-for-weed Technology″ for herbicides will ensure gradual release, synchronizing with the varying germination times of weeds on soil surfaces, therefore, reducing use rates and prolonging effectiveness. Additionally, the ″Secondary Film-forming Technology″ deployed for fungicides achieves optimal prevention and treatment through multiple releases appropriate for relevant disease occurrence patterns. The ″Double-film Protection Technology″ for seed coating agent safeguards seedlings by creating a double-film and multi-film structure, which slows the degradation of pesticides in the soil as per effective duration requirements. Moreover, within the same category of products, such as insecticides with identical efficacy, distinct capsule walls and encapsulation processes are meticulously customized for individual products based on their specific targets. This approach significantly increased the value added by the technology and underscores the core competence that PilarBio has diligently pursued for over a decade.



Microscopic photo of lambda-cyhalothrin CS


Pilarcore® technology is the cornerstone of PilarBio’s advancements, cultivated through a decade of dedicated efforts and subjected to ongoing refinements and innovations. Within the area of pesticide products of the same category, the Pilarcore® technology excels in its targeted approach to designing capsule walls and encapsulation processes, presenting users with a spectrum of tailored choices and delivering added value.


The core competitiveness of Pilarcore® in the global market is proven by its various key aspects, which are as follows:


1. Creating value and additional added value for users

Pilarcore® is dedicated to delivering value to users by providing highly efficient, eco-friendly and cost-effective plant protection solutions, and leveraging its distinctive technological features. Moreover, its commitment extends to offering users additional added value through innovative and differentiated product offerings.


2. Wide range of applications

The Pilarcore® technology covers multiple categories, including insecticides, herbicides, fungicides and seed coating agents. This broad scope allows it to address the diverse needs of different regions and crops in the global market and offer more comprehensive solutions.


3. Adaptability to the development of the global market and user services

Pilarcore® is committed to expanding its market presence in more than 100 countries, catering to a diverse range of user groups. Its flexibility in adapting to the agricultural needs of different regions will ensure the provision of personalized solutions.


4. Establishing long-term strategic relationships with innovative partners

Pilarcore® collaborates with distributor partners in the global market who are passionate about innovative products and long-term strategic cooperation, to jointly achieve technological progress and market development.


5. Determined mission and continuous innovation

Pilarcore® maintains its long-term market competitiveness by heavily focusing on microencapsulation technology, while continuously innovating in controlled release, precise release, targeted release and other technical aspects, and creating more value for users.


In summary, Pilarcore®’s multi-faceted technological innovations, differentiated product portfolio and continuous introduction of new products distinguish Pilarcore® technology, giving it a robust core competitiveness in the global market.


AgroPages: Mr. Mu, please provide a detailed introduction to the main products under the Pilarcore® brand. What were the ideas and philosophy behind the development of these products?


Mr. Mu: Under the Pilarcore® brand, several key products are currently available on the market or are in the development pipeline for the upcoming year.


For insecticides and nematicides, we have various products, such as Samurai (lambda-cyhalothrin CS), PILARCLOTRIN (lambda-cyhalothrin + clothiandin ZC), PILARVICTOR (lufenuron + lambda-cyhalothrin ZC), PILARNEOMEC (abamectin CS), PILARFEND (lambda-cyhalothrin + chlorantraniliprole ZC) and PILARBIL (chlorantraniliprole + emamectin benzoate ZC). The basic idea behind the development of these products is to utilize microencapsulation technology to prevent the rapid decomposition of compounds like lambda-cyhalothrin, abamectin and emamectin benzoate when exposed to ultraviolet light, significantly extending their effective durations. When applied for underground pest control, they effectively reduce the degradation of compounds by soil microorganisms through controlled and targeted release, greatly improving their effective durations, which can be three to five times longer in some products.


For herbicides, we have PILARGOLD (s-metolachlor CS), PILARCOVER (butachlor + oxadiargyl CS), PILARPRIME (s-metolachlor + terbuthylazine ZC), PILARCLEAR (flumioxazin + s-metolachlor ZC), PILARJOY (atrazine + s-metolachlor ZC) and others. We focus on the development of amide herbicides, which, through controlled and precise release, help slow decomposition caused by sunlight and degradation by soil microorganisms, as well as prolong effective duration and reduce the use rate of active ingredients, enhancing safety for crop roots.


For fungicides, we have PILARWIN (fenoxanil + prochloraz ZC), PILARFIRM (metalaxyl-M + pyraclostrobin CS) and others. By employing the double film technology, we generate multiple releases for long-term protection and secondary fungicidal effect. PILARFIRM, a microencapsulated suspension combining metalaxyl-M and pyraclostrobin, was specially developed for underground disease control and is used to manage soil-borne and seed-borne diseases in soybeans, offering prolonged protection for crop roots.


For seed coating agents, we have PILARSEED (clothianidin + fludioxonil + lambda-cyhalothrin FS) and PILARMAXIM (clothianidin + fludioxonil + metalaxyl-M FS). Lambda-cyhalothrin in the form of a microencapsulated formulation is used for controlling underground pests, especially wireworms, providing a season-long effectiveness, as more commonly used neonicotinoid insecticides only serve as repellents and have effective durations of less than 80 days. Metalaxyl-M, which is prone to degradation in the soil, has a five times longer effective duration when applied as a microcapsule suspension, effectively protecting seeds and crop roots.


From the above ideas and starting points, it is evident that the overarching philosophy of the Pilarcore® technology is focused on creating value for users, with longevity being the core value. This approach allows Pilarcore® to establish symbiotic relationships, enabling an easy life for both distributors and users.


AgroPages: What is the current overall trend in global pesticide applications? Describe the progress in the field of microencapsulated pesticides?


Mr. Mu: Currently, the global trend in pesticide applications is shifting towards extending effective duration, reducing use rate, improving safety for users, crops and the environment, decreasing application frequency and labor costs, and reducing overall agricultural input costs. The Pilarcore® series products align with this trend.


Microencapsulated products comprise less than 1% of total registered pesticides globally, with less than 15 companies, being capable of running commercial operations due to the high technical barriers associated with manufacturing microencapsulated formulations. Noteworthy examples include pendimethalin microcapsules and clomazone microcapsules, which can be produced by only a few companies worldwide.


Microencapsulated pesticide applications in specific countries are summarized as follows:


Brazil: Approximately 5,500 tons of lambda-cyhalothrin CS, with sales of around US$120 million; thiamethoxam + lambda-cyhalothrin ZC totaling some 10,000 tons, with sales of US$300 million; other products like clomazone CS and S-metolachlor + mesotrione + atrazine ZC contribute US$130 million in sales. Sales in the country total some US$550 million, accounting for some 5% of pesticide sales.


The US: thiamethoxam + lambda-cyhalothrin ZC and lambda-cyhalothrin CS, s-metolachlor + mesotrione + atrazine ZC, clomazone, pendimethalin CS/ZC products, with total sales of US$600 million, accounting for some 10% of pesticide sales in the country.


Other markets: In the U.S., EU, Brazil and Australia, EC/ME products have been replaced by CS products, particularly by 250g/l lambda-cyhalothrin.


The Chinese market, valued at US$7 billion: thiamethoxam + lambda-cyhalothrin ZC, pendimethalin CS, pyraclostrobin CS and others, with sales of less than US$70 million and a market share of less than 1%. The Chinese market has promising development prospects.


AgroPages: At what stage is the global promotion of Pilarcore® technology currently at? In which overseas regions or markets will the Pilarcore® brand focus on in the future? What is the overall strategy for expanding into overseas regions and markets?


Mr. Mu: Pilarcore® has been launched in South America, including in countries such as Brazil, Argentina and Colombia, Central America, the Middle East, Africa, South Asia and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). This initiative is currently in its early stages. Although Pilarcore® and PilarBio are relatively recent entrants, their youthfulness infuses a vibrant energy into our operations!



PILARCLOTRIN Introduction Event in Taiwan, China



Pilarquim Product Introduction Event in Ecuador



Pilarquim Product Field Trial in Colombia



PILARGOLD Introduction Event in Argentina



PILARGOLD Introduction Event in Nicaragua


In the coming years, Pilarcore® brand products will set their sights on over 100 countries and regions globally. Currently, we have initiated registrations in countries such as Australia and those within the EU. Subsequently, our focus will shift to registrations in North America next year. Our overarching strategy for international market expansion revolves around establishing a brand that epitomizes the industry’s pinnacle, by attracting widespread attention and fostering the long-term development of this technology through a commitment to innovation, differentiation and global outreach.


Regarding specific products like lambda-cyhalothrin and clomazone microcapsules, we aim to collaborate with multinationals through the ODM model. This collaborative approach is geared towards producing high-quality and competitive products in tandem with our partners.


AgroPages: Besides existing products, how will PilarBio further innovate in terms of products, technologies and services around the Pilarcore® brand?


Mr. Mu: PilarBio remains committed to advancing microencapsulation technology through ongoing initiatives in fundamental theoretical research and continuous innovations in both product development and application technology. Our goal is to solidify our leading position across all areas of the industry, covering product manufacturing, supply, quality assurance, promotion and marketing. Currently, we have initiated applications for 32 products within the domestic market, with 10 successfully meeting submission conditions and 22 still in the R&D pipeline. On an international scale, we have submitted registrations for over 150 Pilarcore® products, and more than 60 of these have received registrations and are now commercially available. In summary, we will consistently deliver an expanding portfolio of new products for domestic and international users.


At the same time, we plan to integrate the Pilarcore® technology with the Pilarnano technology to create microencapsulated nano-scale products, in other words, nano-microcapsules. Our commitment will extend to the continuous exploration, research and development of nano-material encapsulation and controlled release technologies and more. These efforts aim to introduce a range of new and advanced products, generating additional value for our users.


AgroPages: What are the development prospects and potential opportunities in the global pesticide market? Based on the Pilarcore® and Pilarnano technologies, what is PilarBio’s global development strategy for the future? What do you think will be the main challenges for PilarBio during this process?


Mr. Mu: Agriculture is the cornerstone of human survival and progress. With the ongoing advancements in agricultural modernization and industrialization, coupled with a push for green and high-quality development, the spotlight on quality agriculture is intensifying. While developing new pesticide compounds can have many challenges, there are also many opportunities for refining and innovating pesticide formulations. Technological advancements, such as microencapsulation and nano-pesticide technologies, characterized by increased efficiency, labor savings and value, have considerable development potential.


PilarBio is only currently involved in formulations, which is a niche segment within the expansive pesticide industry. Positioned as a supplier specializing in brand operations, we aim to attain a leading global position and establish our presence across global markets as a pathway to sustained success. At the heart of corporate development are innovation and branding, which are essential for fostering better development prospects and discovering new opportunities.


PilarBio’s future global development strategy focuses on building a brand with a score of more than 80, driven by innovation and differentiation rooted in its two core technologies, Pilarcore® and Pilarnano. The company’s medium to long-term vision is to emerge as a leading global agrochemical company, and secure a place among the world’s Top 20 brand pesticide companies. 


PilarBio recently clarified the group's mission: Continuously Innovate for Quality Harvest. Specifically, this means with a customer-centric approach, we continuously innovate in technology, products, and services to enhance planting efficiency, create additional value for growers, and improve global agricultural yield, quality, and profitability. The paramount challenge for PilarBio lies in instilling and sustaining faith, persistence and commitment among every individual within the organization to the mission over the long-term.