Roc Partners acquires Australian egg producer Pace Farm

The Sydney-based private equity firm will invest in Pace Farm through its Premium Food Fund, which is the vehicle’s sixth investment.

Roc Partners has acquired all of Australian egg producer Pace Farm, with equity coming from its Premium Food Fund and co-investors.

Roc managing partner Brad Mytton told Agri Investor the acquisition was consistent with the fund’s strategy of investing in “high-quality, sector-leading, profitable businesses with significant hard asset backing and good management teams.”

Mytton declined to comment on the commercial terms of the deal or the value of the transaction.

Pace Farm is a major producer of eggs in Australia and sells the majority of its output through major supermarket chains including Woolworths and Coles. It owns and operates 11 farms, as well as selling eggs produced by several other farms under contract, across New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory.

Mytton said the Premium Food Fund has now made six investments. “We will have room to do one more after Pace, and then we’ll be back in market raising for Food Fund 2 in late 2023 or 2024,” he said.

On why Pace Farms was an attractive investment, Mytton said Roc Partners liked its vertically-integrated nature, its geographically diversified supply chain, and the fact that it is one of the leading businesses in its sector.

On eggs as a commodity, Mytton said: “It’s an affordable protein that is protected in the sense that there’s no imports of shelled egg products into Australia – and there are really no substitutions like you see in other protein categories, where people substitute from chicken to pork to red meat to salmon. Eggs stand alone as their own category.

“The transition away from caged eggs across the sector also presents an opportunity for further consolidation as some producers will exit the market – and it’s a good sustainability story as that plays out, too.”

Roc Partners reached a final close on A$108 million ($70 million; €65 million) for the Premium Food Fund in August 2022, which is its first commingled fund focused exclusively on food and agriculture. Its other investments are wagyu beef producer Stone Axe Pastoral Company; controlled environment tomato grower Flavorite; almond grower Lachlan River Almonds; cold pressed raw milk business Made By Cow; and stone fruit grower 555 Superfoods.

Roc subsequently raised another vehicle, the open-end Roc Agri+ Infrastructure Fund, which has A$300 million in equity commitments available today and focuses on agricultural supply chain investments and other primary production assets. That fund has invested in several assets including chicken broiler business ProTen.

The firm has more than A$2 billion in funds under management dedicated to agriculture and food, including funds and mandates.