Continental Tire should "fare quite well" with demand due in part to its ag tire plant in Lousado, Portugal, that came online in 2018, Futrelle said, adding, "We expect that there could be some overall supply issues in the market due to the overall replacement market growth."
BKT's Drown said: "We have always prided ourselves with fill rates that satisfy our channel partners. During Q1 and Q2 2020, COVID-19 forced plant shutdowns along with freight slow-downs that contributed to lower fill rates.
"Manufactures scheduled production based on demand so that they maximized production, therefore, low-run SKUs experienced the lowest fill rates.
"BKT is fortunate to have four plants located away from each other. This gives more flexibility and, since our largest Bhuj (India) plant is located close to the active port, it did not affect shipments," he said.
In addition to fill-rate issues, tire makers have been dealing with rising raw material costs, which have sparked tire price increases.
"All tire manufacturers are experiencing rising raw material costs coupled with higher costs to deliver our products," Drown said. "If these trends continue, it is inevitable the tire prices will follow. As a manufacturer, we have implemented several manufacturing initiatives that will allow us to keep costs under control. However, we are feeling the impact more of the availability of some raw materials which are in extreme short supply."
Hawkins agreed. "Raw material prices, logistics costs and operational costs are increasing in our industry, just like many others. A lot of the logistics and operational cost increases are due to the COVID pandemic itself. As a result, we and a number of our competitors have already announced price increases in 2021. It's a volatile environment and our team constantly monitors the market. We will adjust quickly to the changing competitive environment."
Futrelle said he would not be surprised if the industry sees more price increases.
"Our core input costs have begun to increase as many commodities have. Shipping costs surged at the end of 2020, as well, due to demand versus vessel availability. Freight costs impact you whether you are shipping tires or the components to build them," he said.
TBC's Dashiell said he also expects market prices to increase in the first half due to escalated freight costs from domestic and ocean rate carriers.
As small farms continue to consolidate, new farm tire manufacturers are moving into the North American market, according to Futrelle.
To compete, Continental continues to push new sizes and technology into the farming market, he said.
"At Continental we have a diverse offering to the farming industry. We supply many tractor components like sensors, harnesses and instrument clusters as well as conveyor belts, rubber tracks and, of course, tires. We will continue to harness synergies between our offerings to provide value to the farming industry," Futrelle said.
"It would appear that after a number of years, the basic economics around the farm business are improving," Titan's Hawkins said, noting that commodity prices should lead to a solid improvement to the OE and replacement markets.
"To best address these trends, we're hiring more employees and increasing our plant capacity. We are also staying as close as possible to our customers to make sure we are producing what's needed. We're also continuing to focus on product development and innovation.
"As we begin 2021, we are continuing to invest in product development that will open up new opportunities for us. For instance, we are introducing the Titan AgraEDGE—our new radial R-1W line currently available in 15 row crop sizes. A total of 40 sizes will be introduced this year including the most popular sizes for MFWD tractors, 4WD tractors, combines and grain carts. ... This will be an incredibly price-competitive tire coming out of our U.S. plants—providing consistent, reliable supply where there may be gaps in supply with other price-competitive manufacturers.
"Finally, our Low Sidewall (LSW) Technology remains a differentiator for us because of the superior performance attributes they offer for our customers," Hawkins said.
"There are always issues that are out of our control such as weather/national disasters, logistics issues, pandemics, labor availability, government policies like trade tariffs, export initiatives, crop insurance, imports," Drown said.
"There are positive trends like expanding opportunities in the radial ag tire market. IF, VF, radial implement tires and others have opened the doors to new business," he said.
"At BKT, we focus on offering value for money spent on our products. We also concentrate on controllable issues like designing tires to meet the ever-changing demands of bigger, faster, high powered tractors and implements. This requires tire manufacturers to constantly continue efforts to improve manufacturing operations."
Yokohama Tire Corp. (YTC) started the year by combining its OTR tire sales operations under the new Yokohama Off-Highway Tires America.
"One of the benefits of having Yokohama OTR, Alliance, Galaxy and Primex (tire brands) together is the ability to provide almost 4,000 SKUs and cover just about any need on the farm—which is a huge number of wheel positions of just about every size," Rasey said.