Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec invested $200 million into US beverage company Zevia in December last year as the Canadian pension’s push into agriculture continued.
Zevia was founded in 2007 and is among a cohort of new agribusinesses that avoid the use of sugar in their products and brands itself as only using ‘clean ingredients.’ The company offers a range of zero calorie and naturally sweetened drinks that includes soft drinks, energy drinks and organic teas, among others.
CDPQ’s investment includes primary capital that will be used to support Zevia’s global expansion plans. The company’s products are currently only available in the US and Canada, where it is distributed to more than 35,000 retail locations, a statement confirmed.
“[Zevia] has an accomplished management team, which has fostered a culture of innovation and developed a loyal client base,” said Martin Laguerre, executive vice‑president and head of private equity and capital Solutions at CDPQ. “Going forward, Zevia will be able to benefit from CDPQ’s ability to create value with our established network to maintain its impressive momentum.”
CDPQ senior vice-president for strategic relationships Mario Therrien told Agri Investor in October that the pension has made ag investments in the past, but “clearly did not pay the attention that we probably should have [to the asset class].”
The firm established a $125 million platform with venture capital investor S2G Ventures last year to invest in early stage agtech companies, and was among a group of investors that placed $150 million into Sollio Cooperative Group, the largest agricultural co-operative in Quebec.
“People that are following us are getting the message: sustainable investment in its broad form is something that is really important for CDPQ in general,” Therrien said of the C$333 billion ($253.6 billion; €214.6 billion) pension’s plans. “We have spent a lot of time on energy and transition and this opportunity [S2G partnership] is bringing us into something we really believe in.”
CDPQ’s other investments in agriculture have included a 2012 commitment to TIAA-CREFF Global Agriculture, a 2017 participation in a C$125 million fund supporting family owned agribusinesses in Canada, and the creation of a C$40 million co-investment platform with co-op Agropur devoted to Canadian dairy in 2018.