Our 10 most-read stories of 2023

We look back at the headlines that made the biggest splash and drew the most number of readers last year.

Happy New Year! The first week of January is a great time for crystal ball gazing and the best way to get a sense of what is to come is to look back on where we have been.

With that in mind, here are the 10 most-read stories from last year to give you a reminder of the biggest headlines from 2023.

10. Regenerate launches European regenerative agriculture fund

Regenerate Asset Management launched a regenerative agriculture fund with a cornerstone investment of approximately €150 million from M&G Investment’s Catalyst strategy.

Regenerate CEO Ben Stafford and chief investment officer Ryan Cameron declined to disclose the vehicle’s fundraising target to Agri Investor, but Stafford said they would consider it a “success” if they are able to double the initial commitment from M&G.

9. Cibus moves into greenhouses as the wheels come off vertical farming

Vertical farming endured a torrid year in 2023 as the number of high-profile bankruptcies mounted. And in 2022, following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the surge in gas prices that followed, traditional greenhouses had also suffered a lot of misery.

Cibus Capital’s acquisition of Dutch greenhouse grower Duijvestijn Tomaten in July was a timely move, then. The company strategically locates its facilities to benefit from waste industrial heat, energy and repurposed carbon dioxide. The firm also generates renewable energy onsite and is “almost CO2 neutral,” said Cibus.

8. Ontario Teachers’ acquires KKR’s GreenCollar stake in A$600m deal

Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan agreed a A$600 million ($385 million; €364 million) deal in September to acquire KKR’s 49 percent stake in carbon project specialist GreenCollar.

The Canadian pension said it will use the investment to “explore opportunities to generate value” within its wider agriculture and timber portfolio, in a move that reiterates natural assets are increasingly being targeted for their potential to act as a carbon sink.

7. JPMorgan’s timberland play to prioritize inflation hedging ahead of carbon

JPMorgan’s 2021 acquisition of timber investment manager Campbell Global bucked the trend of investors targeting natural assets for their carbon capture potential.

While this is a long-term consideration for the bank, the timing of the deal was actually driven by forestry’s attribute as an inflation hedge, Anton Pil told Agri Investor. Pil is global head of the $216 billion Global Alternatives unit that carried out the acquisition.

6. Interview: David Brand and Mark Rogers on New Forests’ past and plans for growth

Outgoing New Forests founder and CEO David Brand sat down with Agri Investor in March alongside incoming CEO Mark Rogers to discuss the Australian asset manager’s forward plans.

The pair discussed forestry’s pull towards natural capital, the acquisition of specialist timberland asset managers by large financial groups and new timberland markets.

5. AeroFarms files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection

One of the biggest vertical farming names to file for bankruptcy in 2023, AeroFarms’ fall from grace also led to co-founder and chief executive David Rosenberg stepping down from his role.

4. Agri Investor Global Awards 2022: Meet the winners!

Our announcement of the Agri Investor Global Awards 2022 is ready-made for widespread readership as the sector lines up to get a view of the honors list.

Look out for our shortlist and voting instructions for the 2023 awards, which we will publish in the coming weeks.

3. H1 fundraising falls to lowest level for more than a decade

In August Agri Investor published the H1 2023 fundraising figures for dedicated agrifood and forestry funds and it made for grim reading – total fundraising dropped to $1.4 billion, which is the lowest half-year figure since 2011.

Numerous notable fund closes in H2 however, not least of all Paine Schwartz Partners’ $1.7 billion Food Chain VI, should make for much improved whole year figures.

2. USDA’s Robert Bonnie hopes to ‘prime the pump’ on climate smart ag

US under secretary for farm production and conservation Robert Bonnie sat down with Agri Investor in September to discuss the USDA’s efforts to support climate smart agtech development and deployment.

Bonnie has been on the road since 2021 stitching together a coalition of producers, lenders, academics, start-ups and strategic stakeholders for the $3.1 billion Partnerships for Climate Smart Commodities program.

1. ‘Institutional-grade’ NT cattle stations hit market with A$550m price tag

Australian retail billionaire Brett Blundy placed a second Northern Territory farmland aggregation up for sale at the start of the year, with the divestment of both assets expected to fetch more than A$550 million ($384 million; €354 million).

Sale of the assets is yet to be announced but, in a sector now dominated by talk of natural capital and carbon credits, this story’s popularity is a timely reminder of the asset class’s fundamental attractiveness.