THE HYPE around non-agricultural investors looking to get involved in the farming sector is on the money, but farmers and ag start ups looking for capital will have to make sure they are meeting key criteria if they want to attract investment.
Michael Whitehead, head of agribusiness insights with ANZ, said agriculture was a real target for investors at present but added they wanted to see businesses with real credentials in areas such as sustainability.
“We have medium sized investors and we have New York capital looking at ag, there will be investment in ag from non-traditional sources, but there will be some criteria they want addressed before putting in their money,” Mr Whitehead, formerly based in the US as an agricultural researcher, told last week’s Australian Grains Industry Conference.
He said farmers or ag businesses looking to attract this capital would need to look at addressing areas the investors find important.
“Sustainability is massive, the investors really want to put their money in something that is sustainable so you need to be able to demonstrate what you are doing on that front,” Mr Whitehead said.
“Traceability is another trend that is of high importance and with block chain technology something we are going to see more and more of.”
Mr Whitehead said not all investor trends were a benefit to traditional farming.
“From the US we can report the whole 3-D meat (using 3D ‘printers’ to produce meat) thing is being taken very seriously, as are other meat alternatives.
“I was recently in Texas in the heart of the beef industry and even in the Walmart there we saw a very large range of meat alternatives in the fridge.”
Meanwhile, Philip Jarvis, chief executive of Direct Agriculture, said developing nations were pushing hard to get investment in their agriculture sectors.
“Places like Ukraine, or even Kazakhstan is now on the radar, they are backed by a lot of government support to make it easier to do business there,” he said.
Mr Jarvis said Chile was another example.
“Chile is hungry for foreign capital and is actively putting in measures to attract that investment.”
He said this was definitely not the case in Australia.
“People talk about getting off the plane in Sydney and feeling like they are walking in treacle in terms of working through the various things that need to be done.
“The investment process in Australia at present is extremely muddy.”