Agricultural Tyres: Bridgestone Sees a Strong Future

Bridgestone's Tom Gerring talks about the company's role in the agricultural sector

Bridgestone reports that the first half of 2022 offered strong results for its agricultural division.

Bridgestone Reports a Robust Approach to the Dynamic Agricultural Sector

However, the full year was impacted in the second half due to pricing alignments and financial pressures/concerns with the farmers.   This was seen across both Bridgestone’s agricultural brands.

Commercial Tyre Business noted that ETRMA had reported replacement tyre sales for the Agri sector were down by 28% in Q3. Bridgestone acknowledged that it expected similar results throughout 2023 but added that the marketplace was still volatile.

One of the impacts upon the agricultural sector in 2022 was the blistering heat conditions across Europe; Commercial Tyre Business asked Bridgestone how this had impacted farmers regarding their tyre policy. What trends did you see? How did you support your customers during this period?

Tom Gerring, Bridgestone’s Commercial AG Regional Manager, responded; “The need for new rubber, during prolonged dry land conditions reduces, unless required for heavy draft operations. However, once field conditions become wet, as they have, the tread is very much back in fashion. In terms of support, Bridgestone, along with our fantastic network of Dealer Partners, kept their 100% focus on providing First Class After-Sales Support, allowing the farmer’s businesses to keep operational.”

In light of the changing climate and Northern Europe now experiencing heatwaves and weather that Southern Europe is more used to, how is that impacting Bridgestone’s tyre offering and what the market is asking from the company?

“Our tyre offering is constantly evolving in sophistication (and technology) with the key driver for productivity, underpinned by sustainability, soil care, and value, so we are very much aligned with our farming community’s needs,” explained Gerring. “No matter what the weather – Education/ Awareness is a hugely important part of the AG Teams working day. However, excessive heat and rubber are not a good combination, so routine tyre maintenance programmes, part of our training, must be fully/strictly adhered to during these hotter periods.”

Commercial Tyre Business also asked about Bridgestone’s plans for the agri sector in 2023. For example, were there any investments in facilities, production, staffing, etc.?  Also, was there a change in the strategy of the company’s business approach?

Gerring responded; “Being an upper premium product offering in the marketplace, Bridgestone will continue its journey of enhancing its “Value Tyre” Theme message to farmers, with four years’ worth of live farm data now available from the VX-TRACTOR tyre – We can very clearly demonstrate its long-life credentials, its value for money and its fantastic reliability in the field and on the road.

“Sustainability, the environment and soil health are key drivers with the farming community and will continue to be in 2023. So it is pleasing to see how our VT-TRACTOR and VX-TRACTOR products directly address many of those concerning issues within farming.

“Both products align with Bridgestone’s commitment to realising a sustainable society, as seen in its recently unveiled E8 company framework.

“The tyres are an example of how sustainability is a key principle of ours and underlines Bridgestone’s continued efforts to support the realisation of a sustainable society by providing social and customer value. The Bridgestone E8 Commitment is at the heart of this. It consists of eight focus areas – Energy, Ecology, Efficiency, Extension, Economy, Emotion, Ease and Empowerment – that guide Bridgestone’s strategic priorities, decision-making and actions throughout every area of the business.

“New generation tread compounds contain vegetable oils, replacing some petroleum-based oils in production. This gives greater resistance to wear and to cutting and chunking to the tread area. A bonus is fewer replacements required for the tractor’s life, thus saving costs and the environment.”

As the market develops, manufacturers must also develop their product portfolio. Bridgestone’s highlight of 2022 has been the increasing number of original equipment fitments, with New Holland and John Deere just two manufacturers to opt for the brand. This trend will be replicated in 2023, with a continuing drive to build momentum in this area and exciting announcements in the pipeline.

The company looks forward to expanding its Bridgestone Partner Network too, which is a fantastic opportunity for any dealerships looking for a global partner to support them at a local level that can offer a proven premium product range to their farming customer base, along with strong aftersales support as standard.

“We continued to see strong repeated data from the monitoring of VX-TRACTOR tyre sets, which demonstrate high levels of long life, value for money and truly outstanding product reliability in the harsh working environment of the farming world.

“Also, we look forward to working closer with many of the OEM Dealerships around the UK to support them in their marketplace fully.”

Energy prices are impacting companies everywhere. However, farmers are particularly impacted on the frontline by having to deal with these price pressures and also being pushed by supermarkets and wholesalers to sell at the lowest price. So what is Bridgestone doing as a tyre manufacturer to support farmers while not being immune to these pressures?

“With financial pressures now reaching all walks of life, and farming is not immune to that, indeed some sectors with farming are under really severe pressures. However, Bridgestone’s long-held motto (mission statement) of “serving society with superior products” holds true here now, as ever before, and is at the heart of everything we do.” Explained Gerring.

“Along with superior products, we also focus strongly on education and awareness so that not only does the farmer improve the profitability and resilience of his farming operation, but at the same time, caring for the (his local) environment via sustainability and soil health practices – which are directly linked to all the products produced by Bridgestone AG. So through a combination of product development, education and a strong after-sales support programme, we can clearly be seen to support our customers' business aspects fully.

Bridgestone is a Total Mobility Solutions Business, and therefore does not (and cannot) just rely on one aspect to drive this modern-day agricultural business forward; it relies on a whole suite of assets as it develops further into a TMS (total mobility solutions) Business,” he concluded.

About the author

Ewan has been editor of Retreading Business since 2006 and of Tyre & Rubber Recycling since the magazine was founded. During this period he has become an expert on the global tyre recycling sector. He has many years' experience as an automotive journalist including a period at Tyres & Accessories.

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