At the recent annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, world leaders highlighted the growing pressure on food, energy and other resources as the global population increases. The Indonesian president said that the world's population could rise by 2 billion in the next 35 years. He commented that conflict between economies is possible in 'the race for scarce resources'. (BBC, 27th January 2011) According to the Government's Chief Scientific advisor, Professor Sir John Beddington, in order to be able to keep up with this growing demand, the amount of food wasted must be addressed. In addition to this, he says that food production must become more efficient through greater investment in agriculture. (BBC, 24th January 2011)

Some firms are already tackling the challenge of producing more food with limited land and water resources. Syngenta is one of the world's largest plant science companies. Not only does it focus on developing new varieties of seeds that give higher yields and are more robust, it is also a leader in crop protection products. Crop protection products control weeds, pests and fungal diseases in plants. Without the use of crop protection products, 40% of the world's food would not exist.

Syngenta invests over 0.6 billion pounds a year in research and development to enable its scientists to develop new products which help to increase crop yields and quality. In addition to the high costs involved, research and development can be very lengthy processes with uncertain outcomes. However, this investment not only benefits Syngenta by providing long term income and enhancing its reputation, it also addresses the global issue of the growing demand for food.


1. List the reasons why firms develop new products.

2. Draw a product lifecycle which includes the research and development stage.

3. Using the article and the Syngenta case study, analyse the challenges and benefits to businesses of carrying out research and development.


1. List the reasons why firms develop new products.

Reasons include:

  • Replacing declining products
  • Adding to the current portfolio
  • Filling a gap in the market
  • Maintaining a competitive advantage
  • Competing with rivals' products
  • Attracting new customers.

3. Using the article and the Syngenta case study, analyse the challenges and benefits for firms of carrying out research and development.


  • Developing a Unique Selling Point
  • Creating or maintaining competitive advantage
  • Providing long term income
  • Finding new opportunities
  • Enhancing reputation


  • High costs involved
  • Long timescales for researching, developing and testing products
  • Uncertain outcomes – large sums of money may be invested on products which never make it to market
  • Difficulties dealing with the changing external environment during the R&D process