MACA 2020: Agricultural Investment, Today and Into the Future

Investment in agriculture around the globe has been fairly steady over the past decade. Furthermore, the industry can expect to continuing seeing more investment dollars heading its way beyond 2020.

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This was the message delivered to virtual attendees of the annual Mid America CropLife Association meeting from Philippe de Laperouse, Managing Director of Highquest Partners. Laperouse spent his time on the meeting’s agenda detailing the findings from his company’s report on the state of global investment in food and agriculture.

As for why this level of investment has taken place in food and agriculture, Laperouse says two primary factors are at work. The first ties back to overall production.

“We see an increasing nexus between agricultural production and large scale food production as investors see shifts in consumer trends related to both,” he said. “This is definitely driving investment dollars.”

The second trend ties to technology. “Many venture capital investors see agriculture and its increasing use of new technology as a way of furthering the investment many of them already have in these emerging technologies by moving into new areas of use.”

Perhaps significantly, the overall economic uncertainty created by the continuing COVID-19 pandemic seems to have not put a damper on food and agricultural investment. “In fact, we think that the food and agricultural industries have a role to play in mitigating the risk of future pandemics,” said Laperouse. “That’s because any improvements in crop yields will reduce the pressures on arable land use. This could keep encroachment on new frontiers and little contacted animal populations from taking place, which is where many of the risks for new pandemics tend to come from.”

With this in mind, Laperouse spelled out for attendees in what areas Highquest Partners foresees food and agricultural investment taking place moving through the rest of 2020 and beyond. This includes alternative protein sources, “impossible foods” (such as the Impossible Whopper from Burger King), indoor/vertical farming models, sustainability, and the accelerated adoption of robotics and artificial intelligence as a way for the food and agricultural sectors to lessen their dependence upon a limited human labor pool.

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“There will also be investment in logistics handling and infrastructure reconfigurations by food and agriculture,” said Laperouse. “We’ve already seen this part of both markets suffer disruptions during the COVID-19 pandemic, so investing in new and different ways to keep products moving across the landscape will make sense.”

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