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A Japanese company with an impressively diverse portfolio, Sumitomo Chemical is making waves in the Australian pest industry.

Who are Sumitomo Chemical?

Sumitomo Chemical is a large Japanese company with interests in a wide range of industries; from petrochemicals, plastics and hi-tech polymers through to agriculture, public health and pharmaceuticals. The roots of the company go back some 400 years to the original business of copper mining in Japan and much later the utilisation of mining waste products in the development of fertilisers.

Global sales are now US$20B, with US$3.4B alone in the health and crop science sector, which includes professional pest control. Sumitomo Chemical employs 31,000 people worldwide.

Sumitomo Chemical have a proud history in insecticide discovery and have been at the centre of pyrethroid chemistry and insect growth regulator development over the years and continue to be one of the few research and development companies investing in discovering new insecticides. Sumitomo Chemical manufactures all of their own actives.

Expansion through acquisition

Strategic acquisitions over the past 15 years have promoted growth in the professional pest control and vector control areas.

In 2000-2001 Sumitomo Chemical acquired the agricultural business of the US-based Abbott Laboratories (renamed Valent Biosciences), which brought with it the key competence in the area of biorational insecticides for both agriculture and public health.

Around the same time, Sumitomo Chemical acquired the rights to the household insecticide business of Aventis (the merged entities of Agrevo and Rhone-Poulenc).

In more recent times, Sumitomo Chemical has become the majority shareholder in the US-based MGK Company (McLaughlin Gormley King), who specialise in custom insect control solutions for the professional pest control, public health and agricultural industries.

Key market segments

Through strategic acquisition and organic growth, Sumitomo Chemical has become a key player in the global public health and pest control market.

Through its subsidiary, Valent Biosciences Corporation (VBC), the company is the industry leader in biorational products for larval control of mosquitoes based on the microbes Bacillus thuringiensis israeliensis (Bti) and Bacillus sphaericus.

Sumitomo Chemical also has a significant foreign aid program, supporting poorer parts of the world with innovative resin-based insecticidal products including the ‘Olyset’ mosquito net and its newer generation derivatives, Olyset Plus and Olyset Duo, together with various pyrethroid- based space sprays, and larval control products based on the insect growth regulator (IGR), pyriproxyfen.

The recent acquisition of MGK brings to the table further vector and urban pest management tools.

Sumitomo Chemical, together with its subsidiaries VBC and MGK, has a strong pipeline of new products for use in vector and urban pest management to be introduced over the next few years.

Sumitomo Chemical in Australia

Here in Australia, Sumitomo Chemical provides a growing range of products for these two segments, as well as products and support for government sponsored control or eradication programs of nuisance and invasive insects.

Sumitomo Chemical supplies the lion’s share of Bti products for local council-sponsored mosquito control, under the brand names Vectobac, Vectolex and Teknar.

Sumitomo Chemical is also a key player in the supply of products for other government sponsored programs for the control or eradication of invasive ants, such as red imported fire ant in Brisbane, and yellow crazy ant (helicopter drop in Arnhem Land pictured above) and electric ant in northern Australia, as well as control of periodic locust outbreaks across the country.

Red imported fire ants taking bait (Brisbane)

The Sumitomo Chemical range of products has expanded over the last couple of years and now includes the Xterm termite monitoring and baiting system along with general pest control brands such as Sumilarv, Synergy Pro ant bait and a range of premium professional aerosols; Bedlam, Sumiblast, and WaspJet.

The future for Sumitomo Chemical

A range of new and innovative products is currently being developed to enhance the product range available to professional pest managers and government authorities involved in pest management and eradication.

Sumitomo Chemical has just launched the first of these new products – Sumilarv Granular for mosquito, midge and fly control. Sumilarv Granular is a slow release granule containing pyriproxyfen which has been developed for use against freshwater mosquito species, non-biting midges and drain flies breeding in a range of habitats including potable water tanks, temporary breeding ponds and polluted water environments. Its unique sachet delivery system makes larval control a simple and easy process.

Garry Webb, professional products general manager for Sumitomo Chemical summarised the company vision for professional pest control. “Sumitomo Chemical is all about providing smart, creative solutions to pest control problems. We understand the pests and our customers’ needs, and use the latest technology and knowledge to provide simple solutions, that add value to our customers’ businesses. Sumilarv Granular is a great example – an easy to use product that provides pest managers with a nice add-on growth opportunity.”