Learn more about the
Global Seed Companies Index

The 2019 ranking explained

*In August 2018, Bayer completed the $66 billion takeover of Monsanto. The 2019 index reflects company activities in the 2015-2017 period, prior to the takeover.
Measurement areas
  • Governance & Strategy
  • Genetic Resources
  • Intellectual Property
  • Research & Development
  • Seed Production
  • Marketing & Sales
  • Capacity Building

In contrast to the 2016 Index, which presented separate rankings for global field crop and vegetable seed companies, the 2019 Index combines these companies in one ranking. This overall ranking is the weighted sum of the scores in seven measurement areas. Looking at the absolute scores, all companies made progress compared to 2016.

East-West Seed tops the 2019 Index, scoring slightly better than it did in the 2016 Global Index of Vegetable Seed Companies, which it also led. The company’s unique smallholder-centric business model means it performs strongly across all measurement areas, particularly Intellectual Property, Research & Development and Marketing & Sales.

Syngenta and Bayer are virtually tied for second place, with Syngenta just having the edge. Both companies improved their scores compared to 2016. Syngenta’s second-place position is a result of robust SDG commitments that cut across all measurement areas and regions as well as a leading performance in Seed Production. Bayer owes its third-place position to marked progress in its commitments to improving access to seeds for smallholder farmers and leading efforts in Genetic Resources and Capacity Building.

Coming in fourth is Corteva Agriscience (DowDuPont’s agricultural division), with a strong performance in Governance & Strategy and Intellectual Property. The company is a steady performer overall, without displaying or disclosing ‘game-changing’ approaches like its better performing peers do.

Advanta debuts in the index in fifth place, thanks to consistent performance across measurement areas. However, it did not make it into the top three in any measurement area, indicating room for improvement.

Limagrain has made significant progress compared to the 2016 Index, making it into the top three in Research & Development and earning recognition for its leading role in Genetic Resources.

Monsanto, currently being integrated into Bayer after the 2018 takeover, once again ranks in the middle of the index.

Among the specialized vegetable seed companies, Rijk Zwaan outranks its peers – with the exception of East-West Seed – with strong performance in Research & Development and consistent average performance in other areas. The other Dutch companies Bejo and Enza Zaden follow closely, also demonstrating progress compared to 2016.

Takii, KWS and Sakata perform weakly across all areas, disclosing limited information about their activities and providing little or no clarity on whether improving access to seeds for smallholder farmers is part of their strategy.

More about the methodology

The Access to Seeds Index evaluates leading seed companies with an integrated seed business model (including breeding, production and distribution) and activities in food crops. The selection of global companies is based on seed revenues, presence and portfolio, while the selection of regional companies is the result of landscaping studies of national seed sectors to identify leading companies in each region. The methodology development is overseen by expert review committees, composed of global experts and experts from the regions.

The 2019 Access to Seeds Index for Global Seed Companies is comprised of 13 globally active seed companies. Evaluation of company performance is based on publicly available information as well as information provided through active company engagement. Three-quarters of the selected companies disclosed additional data via a questionnaire. The index therefore offers insights not yet available in the public domain.

The index is a relative ranking, which compares companies with each other rather than against an absolute, ideal state. As such, companies set and raise the bar. The index uses a weighted scorecard approach to measure and compare company performance. A total of 59 indicators are grouped in seven measurement areas. Each measurement area has four categories of indicators: Commitment, Performance, Transparency and Leadership. A company’s overall score is the weighted sum of the scores in each measurement area.