First State Super takes stake in tomato business via ROC Partners-managed fund

The A$250m Victorian Business Growth Fund’s investment in Flavorite is expected to help expand the business and create jobs.

A vehicle backed by First State Super and the Victorian state government, has made an investment of an undisclosed size in tomato producer Flavorite.

It is the first investment made by the Victorian Business Growth Fund, a A$250 million ($175 million; €153 million) vehicle managed by Sydney-based private equity firm ROC Partners and was launched in June 2020.

VBGF comprises a A$200 million commitment from First State Super, which completed a merger with VicSuper at the end of June, and A$50 million of public funds from the Victorian government.

Flavorite is based in Victoria’s Gippsland region and grows tomatoes in greenhouses, supplying product to the east coast of Australia. It is currently owned by the Nichol and Millis families.

In a statement, First State Super said the investment would enable Flavorite to expand the business and explore new product lines and markets, creating more jobs in Victoria – a stated aim of the VBGF when it was launched.

The investment could help add other varieties of fruit and vegetables to Flavorite’s production lines, Agri Investor understands.

First State Super declined to comment on the size of the investment in Flavorite and said that all investment decisions are taken by ROC Partners. ROC Partners did not respond to a request for comment prior to publication.

First State Super chief executive Deanne Stewart said in a statement: “This investment in an agricultural producer in regional Victoria will create new jobs and will support the local economy to grow – we’re proud to be partnering with the Victorian government to make a difference in regional communities.

“The numerous growth opportunities available to the business through this capital injection is expected to deliver a strong return on investment for our members.”

First State Super and ROC Partners have worked together on deals in the agriculture sector before.

ROC Partners manages GO NSW Equity Fund’s stake in wagyu beef producer Stone Axe Pastoral Company, as well as owning a majority stake in that business. The GO NSW Equity Fund is a A$150 million vehicle backed by First State Super and the New South Wales government.