UK’s wealthiest land-owning family bets on North American ag

A subsidiary of Grosvenor Estate has put an ex-Cargill and Syngenta exec in charge of running its new office in Minneapolis.

Wheatsheaf Group, the food and agriculture investment holding of the UK’s Grosvenor Estate, has launched a new outpost in North America to build out its portfolio on that side of the pond.

These efforts are being led by Sylvio Petto Neto, managing director for North America. Petto Neto joined Wheatsheaf in June 2017, after a 10-month stint as an agribusiness consultant for Green Prairie Consulting. He had previously held business development roles at Cargill and Syngenta.

Wheatsheaf did not respond to a request for comment.

The Grosvenor Estate, the investment holding of the UK’s wealthiest land-owning family, launched Wheatsheaf in 2012 in a bid to diversify its portfolio beyond property and land. It has since screened more than 850 opportunities in the food and agriculture sector and invested in 21, according to the group.

“Wheatsheaf brings a different perspective to the North American market. We are a relatively new business that has achieved significant global scale quickly,” said Graham Ramsbottom, the unit’s chief executive.

Wheatsheaf’s portfolio in North America include vertical farming venture AeroFarms, shelf-life extending technology company BluWrap, insect-based feed maker Enterra, animal-biometric specialist GrowSafe, water tech firm Ostara, precision-ag company SharedX and TriStrata, which makes ozone-producing devices for the food industry.

Grosvenor Group, the Grosvenor Estate’s property arm, posted annual revenue profit of £79.2 million ($110 million; €90 million) in 2016. The Grosvenor Estate does not disclose the revenues of Wheatsheaf Group or its Family Investment Office.