Field Notes: Tyson Foods backs insect protein company; Australian farmland values stagnate; Butterfly Equity has a new CFO

Tyson Foods backs insect protein company Protix, Australian farmland values stagnate, Butterfly Equity appoints a new CFO, Ferrero Roche lists a large farmland asset, and more. Welcome to Field Notes, the start-of-the-week briefing for our valued subscribers only. (Tips and feedback to:

First look

Insect feed: Protix uses waste from the food industry as feed for the black soldier fly, which is in turn used as feed for livestock, pets and aquaculture. (Image: Getty)

Tyson gets serious about insect protein

Tyson Foods has made a two-pronged investment into Dutch insect protein company Protix.

The global food giant has made an investment of an undisclosed size for a minority equity stake to help fund the company’s growth. Protix opened its production facility in 2019 and is already a supplier to livestock companies.

Tyson Foods and Protix have also entered a joint venture for the operation and construction of an insect ingredient facility in the US.

“Upon completion, it will be the first at-scale facility of its kind to upcycle food manufacturing byproducts into high-quality insect proteins and lipids, which will primarily be used in the pet food, aquaculture and livestock industries,” said a statement.

Protix CEO Kees Aarts said: “Tyson Foods’ and Protix’s strategic partnership advances our joint work towards creating high-quality, more sustainable protein using innovative technology and solutions.

“Moreover, we can immediately use their existing byproducts as feedstock for our insects. This agreement is a major milestone for Protix and significantly accelerates our ambition to grow through international partnerships.”

Tyson Foods has made other investments in the alternative protein value chain through its venture capital arm Tyson Ventures, into companies such as fermented ingredients producer Myco Technology; plant-based seafood company New Wave; and cultivated meat companies Believer Meats (formerly Future Meat) and Upside Foods.

“The insect lifecycle provides the opportunity for full circularity within our value chain, strengthening our commitment to building a more sustainable food system for the future,” said Tyson Foods COO John R Tyson.

They said it

“We like things that are very defensible, non-discretionary, and that perform in any kind of economic backdrop”

Tiffany Hagge, founder and managing partner of Citation Capital, discusses the acquisition of Cibo Vita, the firm’s first deal since it was founded in Q1.


Australia’s winter crop to fall

Rabobank’s 2023-24 Australian Winter Crop Forecast has been released, predicting that Australia should harvest a total winter crop of 48.72 million tonnes for the current season.

This represents a fall of 24 percent on the record haul of 63.85 million achieved last year but is still close to the five-year average and above the totals recorded in each of 2018-19 and 2020-21. In particular, all cereal and coarse grain production – including wheat, barley and oats – will see a decrease this season, with wheat seeing the largest drop.

Continuing strength in commodity prices will also provide comfort for Australian growers, the bank said, with dry conditions settling in and pushing local prices above the global average.

RaboResearch associate analyst Edward McGeoch said climatic conditions are playing a major role in the tightening outlook for supply of Australian grains and oilseeds.

“Production expectations are varied across regions with some farmers expecting to see elevated production due to positive growing conditions they have experienced, while others will be facing tough decisions as to whether it will be worth harvesting their crop,” he said.

The biggest productions declines are expected in Queensland and Western Australia, with falls of 36 percent and 35 percent respectively year-on-year. Victoria is slated to be the only state that will see production increase.


Peoples Company hires director of capital partnerships

Peoples Company has hired former AcreTrader executive Jonathan Shively as managing director of capital partnerships.

The role includes responsibilities related to Iowa-headquartered Peoples Company’s offerings of farmland investments through separate accounts and structured products.

Shively’s responsibilities at AcreTrader included work on expanding uptake of the company’s Acres land analysis platform.

“The recurring theme across my 25-year plus career has been building institutional relationships and connecting capital to different investment classes, whether that’s public or private, buildings or agricultural land,” Shively told Agri Investor.

Read the full article here.

Butterfly Equity elevates Tang to CFO

Butterfly has promoted Peter Tang to chief financial officer. He takes on the role in addition to his current position as managing director.

Tang will oversee all aspects of the firm’s financial activities and will also be appointed to the board of the Butterfly Equity Foundation.

Formerly a member of KKR’s consumer retail private equity team, Tang joined Butterfly in 2016 as one of the first members of the firm’s investment team.

“Peter’s exceptional financial acumen, coupled with his deep experience in private equity and strong commitment to the firm, make him the ideal candidate as the newest member of our leadership team,” said Butterfly co-founders and co-CEOs Adam Waglay and Dustin Beck.

“We look forward to working alongside Peter in his new role to transform and expand Butterfly’s scale and impact.”


Australian farmland values flatline

The growth rate in Australian farmland values has declined significantly in the first half of 2023, as the median price per hectare grew by only 0.1 percent compared with a year earlier to remain flat at A$8,515 ($5,434; €5,135).

This is a substantial shift from the previous four half-yearly periods, which each saw year-on-year growth of 16-23 percent, according to Rural Bank’s Australian Farmland Values H1 2023 report. The median price per hectare for the 2022 calendar year was A$8,506.

Rural Bank said the figures represented “an inflection point” for farmland values Down Under, as the median price in the first half of 2023 fell by 3.9 percent in comparison with the second half of 2022.

On a regional basis, Western Australia recorded the biggest increase in values at 15.1 percent, while Tasmania recorded a 24.7 percent drop for the first half of the year.

The number of farmland transactions continued to decline in the first half of the year, which fell to its lowest level in the past 28 years, said the report.

Read the full article here.

Farm sales

A sign of good taste?

Ferrero, the Italian confectionary giant that produces Nutella, Kinder and the eponymous Ferrero Rocher, is selling a large aggregation of Australian farmland in the Riverina region of New South Wales.

Owned through its Australian subsidiary Agri Australis, the aggregation known as Dellapool is located around 14km southwest of Narrendera and covers more than 2,665ha.

It is being offered with 11,361 mega-liters of groundwater and surface water entitlements, comprising: 2,723ML of high security entitlements; 4,627,5ML of general security entitlements; 3,815ML of groundwater entitlements; and further supplementary, stock and domestic water rights.

Agent CBRE said it expected to attract offers of more than A$80 million.

CBRE Pacific head of agribusiness John Harrison said: “This is a unique opportunity in an attractive agricultural region that is appealing to corporate and institutional investors – particularly for large-scale development assets with extensive river frontage and significant water entitlements.”

They will be hoping that investors really spoil them with offers.

VC fundraising

DAIZ, a Japanese plant-based meat company, raised $47 million in a Series C funding round backed by Mitsubishi UFJ Capital, Roquette, Miyoshi Oil & Fat and Kagoshima Bank, among others.

Moolec Science, a Luxembourg-based biotech company, raised $30 million in cash and a convertible note from strategic investors.

Zordi, a New Jersey-based indoor ag start-up backed by Khosla Ventures, emerged from stealth and announced a $20 million investment from a set of undisclosed investors.

Ocean Rainforest, a Faroe Islands-based sustainable seaweed cultivator, secured a €4.5 million investment through the Technology to Market Plus Up award.

Beta Bugs, a Scottish insect protein company, secured a $2 million investment in a funding round led by The TRICAPITAL Syndicate, with participation from SIS Ventures, Scottish Enterprise, Beeches Group, and InnovateUK.

Also in the news…

Timberland needs a figurehead to rally all stakeholders

An individual with credibility across academic, environmental and financial stakeholders would be an asset for increasingly complex timberland markets (Agri Investor).

Breeding programmes offer pathway to low-methane livestock

Researchers around the world think they can curb emissions without hitting milk and meat output (FT).

Arkansas orders Chinese-owned seed producer Syngenta to sell US farmland

US farm groups and lawmakers are increasingly scrutinizing foreign land ownership due to concerns about national security (CNN).

General Mills partners with Walmart to advance regenerative agriculture

General Mills, Walmart and Sam’s Club have announced a collaboration to accelerate the adoption of regenerative agriculture on 600,000 acres in the US by 2030 (FoodBev).

Rubicon Carbon and CHOOOSE join forces

TPG subsidiary Rubicon Carbon and CHOOOSE will offer emissions calculations, automated reporting and carbon credit transaction management (BusinessWire).

Ocean 14 Capital invests in aquaculture startup WellFish Tech

The start-up offers rapid fish health assessment for the aquaculture industry through blood-based clinical chemistry analysis (Ocean 14 Capital).

Climate change forces Italy’s farmers to focus on water

Fixing public infrastructure will take years, so growers are finding their own solutions (FT).

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