Field Notes: Sumitomo seeds $435m forestry fund; EBRD helps mobilize $115m for oceans; and Goldman consolidates Frøy position

Sumitomo seeds $435m forestry fund; EBRD helps mobilize $115m for oceans; Goldman consolidates Frøy position; and FAIRR wants antibiotics disclosures from meat supply chain. Welcome to Field Notes, the start-of-the-week briefing for our valued subscribers only. Tips and feedback to:  

First look

Sumitomo Forestry is one of 10 Japanese investors that have backed the Eastwood Forests fund as Asian interest in timberland heats up. (Image: Getty)

Eastwood looks east for capital
There’s a new player in timber town – and it’s launched with a big splash.

Following its establishment in November 2022 with the backing of Japanese conglomerate Sumitomo Forestry, Eastwood Forests has announced the establishment of its first fund – Eastwood Climate Smart Forestry Fund I – with seed capital of approximately ¥60 billion ($435 million; €388 million) from the US subsidiaries of 10 Japanese companies.

The 15-year closed-end fund is targeting the purchase of around 130,000ha of forest in North America by 2027, with the generation and sale of carbon credits a major driver of the strategy.

The LPs in the fund are a list of major Japanese companies: ENEOS Corporation, Osaka Gas, Tokyo Century Corporation, Japan Post Holdings, Nippon Yusen Kaisha, Fuyo General Lease Co, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation, Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Bank, and Unicharm Corporation, as well as Sumitomo Forestry itself.

Eastwood Forests is led by two ex-leaders of The Forestland Group and has big ambitions – it aims to launch further funds focused on Southeast Asia and Australasia to grow to more than ¥100 billion in AUM by 2030.

The announcement is further evidence of Japanese investors’ interest in forestry for both its defensive characteristics in a high-inflation environment and its ability to sequester carbon – a trend that doesn’t look like changing any time soon.

Read the full story here.

They said it

“Cibus is partnering with businesses who have excess waste heat and CO2 in combination with availability of land for greenfield glasshouses to be built”

Cibus Capital head of agriculture Jason Silm sets out his firms plans to build out up to 150ha of renewable energy-powered greenhouses across Europe.


EBRD and co mobilize $115m for oceans protection
The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development has teamed with a group of developmental finance institutions to support a $115 million capital formation to protect oceans and marine ecosystems around the world.

The EBRD’s partners for the Global Environment Facility’s (GEF) Clean and Healthy Ocean Integrated Program include the Asian Development Bank, the Development Bank of Latin America, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO.

The program offers grants that aim to help countries control pollution in coastal environments through the introduction of sustainable farming practices on 200,000 hectares of land, and 14.3 million hectares of marine habitat while mitigating 5.6 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions.

“The Clean and Healthy Ocean Integrated Program aims to contribute to a sustainable blue economy by curbing coastal pollution at the source through policy and regulations, infrastructure investment and nature-based solutions,” the EBRD wrote.

All of the participating DFIs are recipients of grants from GEF, a family of funds dedicated to confronting biodiversity loss, climate change, pollution and strains on land and ocean health through grants, blended financing and policy support for developing countries. It has provided more than $23 billion and helped catalyze $129 billion in co-financing to more than 5,000 national and international projects since its 1991 founding.

“We understand the critical importance of a sustainable blue economy for the development of our regions, in particular in the Mediterranean, and the integral role of seas and oceans in climate action,” EBRD impact and partnerships managing director Ines Rocha said in a statement.


Goldman consolidates Frøy position
Goldman Sachs Asset Management has taken another step towards completing its acquisition of listed Norwegian aquaculture services provider Frøy.

A statement from the Oslo Stock Exchange said companies wholly or indirectly owned by the asset manager acquired shares in the business equivalent to 17.24 percent in the business on July 12.

Goldman Sachs struck an agreement with SalMar subsidiary NTS in mid-June for its 72.11 percent share in Frøy, at a price of Nkr76.50 ($7; €6.50), meaning Goldman now owns or has rights to almost 90 percent of the business.

Following completion of the NTS deal, which continues to make its way through the regulatory approvals process, Goldman will make an unconditional mandatory cash offer to acquire the remaining shares in Frøy at a total consideration of almost $600 million. Frøy’s board has recommended the company’s shareholders accept the mandatory offer.

Frøy is an integrated provider of aqua services to Norwegian salmon farmers, with a fleet of around 80 vessels and a team of more than 900 members of staff.

Frøy’s service offering includes transport of fish, sorting, counting, cleaning of nets, treatment for diseases and lice, and the inspection, installation and maintenance of salmon farming sites.

Supply chains

FAIRR calls for antibiotics disclosure from fast food providers
Farm Animal Investment Risk and Return (FAIRR) is calling for disclosure of the quantity and type of antibiotics used in fast food to help address what it calls a risk to the entire world economy.

FAIRR – an investor network established in 2015 to raise the profile of factory farming issues within ESG dialogue – said 71 institutional investors and representatives had joined an existing initiative calling for action to address antimicrobial resistance (AMR).

The investor group includes Green Century Funds, HESTA and Schroders Capital, among others, and their outreach will focus on a group of 12 restaurant companies that include Domino’s Pizza, Yum! Brands – the owner of KFC and Pizza Hut – and the McDonald’s Corporation.

“By overusing these vital drugs we are making them less effective against deadly diseases, a huge risk to public health and, as the covid pandemic showed, financial stability,” said FAIRR founder Jeremy Coller in a statement.

“It’s a $100 trillion threat to the world economy, but one we can avoid if fast food giants take a lead by cleaning up their supply chains – a process that starts with them committing to making these long-overdue disclosures to their investors.”

The Restaurant Antibiotics Engagement builds on a previous AMR dialogue with 20 fast food companies between 2016 and 2019 that resulted in 19 of them disclosing their antibiotic policies, but company efforts have faltered in the years since, FAIRR said. Plans call for company dialogues to be held by December; these will inform company assessments that FAIRR will publish in Spring 2024.

“By curbing the overuse and misuse of antimicrobials in the annual agriculture supply chain, we can reduce and seek to prevent the potential risks posed by AMR, which we believe will ultimately aid in protecting the global economy and public health,” Schroders social engagement lead Katie Frame added.

VC fundraising

Silo, a California-based provider of technology solutions for the food supply chain, raised $132 million in a funding round led by First Citizens Bank and Koch Disruptive Technologies. Other investors included existing investors Andreessen Horowitz, Haystack Capital, Tribe Capital, Collate Capital and Moore Capital.

Aphea.Bio, a Belgian agricultural technology company, raised €70 million in a Series C funding round led by Innovation Industries, with participation from Korys Investments, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, SFPIM, BNP Paribas Fortis, ECBF, Astanor and AIF.

Foraged, a Washington DC-based marketplace for wild and specialty foods, raised $2.7 million in a seed funding round led by Bessemer Venture Partners with participation from Yelp co-founder and CEO Jeremy Stoppelman, StubHub co-founder Eric Baker, Shopify president Harley Finkelstein, and Fiverr founder and CEO Micha Kaufman.

Finres, a French agriculture investing platform, raised €4.1m in an investment round led by Speedinvest, with participation from AFI Ventures, Better Angle, Illuminate Financial Management, Kima Ventures, Plug & Play, Raise Sherpas and Tiny VC.

FarmTrace, a Dutch animal farming data platform, has raised $6.5 million in a Series A round led by Surmount Ventures and CNBB Equity Partners, with participation from Fulcrum Global Capital and Stage 1 Ventures.

Also in the news…

How a UK venture firm is using AI to make better investments
Richard Blakesley is using AI to vet investments for the Boost Fund, noting that “the early-stage fundraising process is plagued by bias of all sorts: expert bias, pattern-recognition bias, network bias and so forth” (VCJ).

Collins hires Frank Torresy as general counsel
Torresy is a former vice-president for investments at Agriculture Capital and moved to the Oregon-headquartered forest products provider in June (Collins).

Westfalia Fruit appoints new board chair
South African avocado producer Westfalia Fruit, backed by Harvard Management Company and HMC-spinout Solum Partners, has appointed Dr Khotso Mokhele to chair of the board. Mokhele founded the Academy of Science of South Africa (Westfalia).

JBS to pursue dual listing in Brazil and US to deliver value to shareholders
“JBS presents a transformative value proposition to its shareholders and the market that will unlock the potential value of our global company for all stakeholders,” said Gilberto Tomazoni, JBS Global CEO (JBS).

Australia presents National Statement on Climate Change and Agriculture
The National Statement is a first for the country to present a unified vision on climate change and agriculture (Aus Govt).

The Coca-Cola Company and eight bottling firms raise $137.7m for new sustainability venture fund
The fund will invest in packaging, decarbonization and other initiatives with the potential to reduce the Coca-Cola system’s carbon footprint (VCJ).

Today’s letter was prepared by Binyamin Ali, Chris Janiec and Daniel Kemp