NEW YORK CITY, May 12, 2014 – Close to 700 investors, asset managers and agribusiness executives with more than US$3.5 trillion in assets under management listened to expert industry speakers explain the burgeoning agriculture investment sector at the 6th annual Global AgInvesting (GAI) conference at the Waldorf Astoria here during the week of April 28.
The attractive risk/return profile of the global agriculture industry was in the spotlight at this industry leading conference that covers investment opportunities across the entire value chain, including farmland, agribusiness private equity, infrastructure, animal protein production, permanent crops and agricultural technologies.
“There is already a global race to capture opportunity and if we are to have food security, we need to manage access to capital,” said Michael Whitehead, global director of Agribusiness Industry Insights, ANZ, one of Australia’s largest banks. “What is driving ag now is what we like to call ‘the new normal’ – structural shifts that last longer than a generation, such as the shift in economic cycles of change in the middle class,” which he explained as higher income diets fueling the need for more protein, a much more resource intensive product to produce.
“If anything, demand is understated and allocation into ag and foreign investment in ag is very low now and can only grow,” said Whitehead, noting that ag technology would play a role in closing the gap in land availability and production capability.
Jim Taylor, partner at Avrio Capital in Calgary, spoke on the possibilities for improving productivity with fewer inputs by employing ag technologies. “AgTech is really about innovation and there are lots of good technologies in the world. It’s about bringing them to ag and adapting them to ag. Relatively modest improvements in productivity can bring significant gains,” said Taylor.
He predicted that what would move the needle the most in the next 10 years in AgTech would be how to manage, monitor and maintain a better growing environment – what happens below the surface of the crop.
New ag technologies presented at the 2nd annual GAI AgTech Investing Summit, added last year as a fourth-day offering of the Global AgInvesting conference, included animal diagnostics that can predict the occurrence of mastitis in cows, a glandular problem that if detected in time would save the average 2,000 cow dairy farmer about $400,000 in costs a year; new biotech creations that address antibiotic resistance; and platforms for smart water usage that when utilized properly result in 16% water savings.
Success stories from 2013 were also featured alongside the newer technologies, including the recent IPOs of Evogene and Marrone Bio Innovations, the acquisition of GEOSYS by Land O’Lakes, and the major acquisition of The Climate Corporation by Monsanto.
David Friedberg, CEO of The Climate Corporation, delivered the keynote address at the GAI AgTech Investing Summit and spoke about how big data was going to ignite a revolution in agriculture technology to the audience of over 250 who registered for this extra day of discovery at the conference. “Growers need simplicity, and the producers who adopt these [new] technologies early will have an economic advantage.”
With the growing interest in the agriculture technology space and agriculture investments in general, GAI hopes to expand its offerings to include stand-alone AgTech conferences, beginning with an inaugural Silicon Valley event in 2015.
Global AgInvesting (GAI) is the most well-attended agriculture investment series in the world, having hosted more than 6,000 attendees since 2009. The conferences, hosted by HighQuest Group and held annual in New York, Singapore, London and Dubai, offer a comprehensive overview of the agriculture investment landscape and a clear picture of where the real money is moving in the space.
Information and registration are now open for the remainder of the 2014 Global AgInvesting series: in Singapore, September 23-25 and in London, December 1-3. Visit www.globalaginvesting.com for details.