Dreyfus venture unit to focus on Series A and B stage startups

The ag merchant and processor’s 2019 annual report suggests alternative proteins, traceability and food waste are among subsectors where LDC Innovations will deploy capital.

A corporate venture unit launched by Louis Dreyfus Company plans to focus on minority equity investments in Series A and B stage startups developing food and agriculture technology.

LDC Innovations will target companies that have already achieved proof of concept and are either producing revenue or on the on the verge of commercialization, a LDC representative told Agri Investor in an email.

The representative said: “We aim to help address the world’s protein gap and demand for sustainable food, feed and fibers while gaining structured insights into disruptive innovations in our markets, business lines and the industry at large.”

The venture unit will be led by Max Clegg, a regional head of North American food innovations at LDC, who was not available for interview.

According to his LinkedIn profile, Clegg joined LDC in 2012 after five years at GE Capital, where he began as an associate in the GE Energy financial services unit’s debt portfolio group, before becoming vice-president of that unit’s natural resource group in 2010.

New York-based Clegg served as head of corporate development and M&A for North America at LDC for seven years before assuming the food innovations-focused position in 2019, according to the profile.

“Max’s experience will be key to identify [sic] investment opportunities and build long term, productive relationships with companies in the LDC Innovations portfolio,” wrote the LDC representative.

The representative also highlighted Clegg’s role in supporting LDC’s participation in a $90 million Series A for animal-free ingredient provider Motif FoodWorks in early 2019, as an example of his previous experience relevant to the new role of leading LDC Innovations.

LDC’s 2019 annual report, released in March, identifies the Motif FoodWorks Series A as the first in an anticipated series of investments designed to help encourage sustainable production of new and existing proteins, and improve supply chain transparency and efficiency among producers.

“Some of these could take the form of new and sustainable proteins – innovative plant-based alternatives, or proteins derived from insects, algae, microbiology and food waste,” the report said. “Another avenue is innovation in technologies that facilitate agricultural production, food safety and quality control and supply chain traceability, for which consumers are increasingly willing to pay a premium.”

LDC is currently seeking a director with experience originating, analyzing and executing early-stage preferred equity investments to support Clegg in leading LDC Innovations, according to a LinkedIn job posting earlier this month.