German chemical giant Bayer has announced plans for more than €1.5bn (US$1.76bn) of cost cuts from 2024 to offset a drop in demand for agricultural products, Reuters reported on 30 September.

The company said COVID-19 had had a bigger impact on the crop-science business than expected due to low commodity prices, a decrease in biofuel consumption and intensified competition in the soyabean market.

Bayer’s share price had been hit by a deal it made in June to pay around US$11bn to settle US lawsuits over its Roundup weedkiller, Reuters said.

The company inherited the lawsuits following its 2018 purchase of global agrochemical firm Monsanto for US$63bn.

In September, Bayer said it was making progress on a final deal and the company was now reworking a part of the settlement that would address future Roundup cases.

Bayer denies claims that Roundup or its active ingredient glyphosate causes cancer, saying decades of independent studies have shown the product is safe for human use.

The product is used by farmers in combination with the company’s genetically modified seeds.

The latest cuts were in addition to annual savings of €2.6bn (US$3.06bn) as of 2022, which had been announced in November 2018.

Bayer was also considering exiting non-strategic businesses or brands below the divisional level, Reuters said.

The company expected its pharmaceuticals business to return to growth in 2021 with sales expected to be about the same as in 2020 despite the ongoing threat from COVID-19, Reuters said.