Is the food company grab the next step beyond the land grab?

In parallel with land tenure deals in developing countries, I foresee a new trend to develop strongly in the years to come.

In order to increase food security, countries in Asia and in the Arab world will invest more aggressively in food and agriculture companies.

In China, the search for acquisitions is gaining momentum. A first attempt, although failed, by China’s Bright Food group to acquire Australia’s CSR sugar is an indicator is this trend to come. But China is not the first country to initiate this.

For instance, Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund created Hassad Foods to invest in food related projects in Qatar and abroad. The purpose of Hassad Foods is to help Qatar achieve food security. They aim at developing their activities in South America and Africa, with the expressed goal of completing at least six projects by the end of 2010. Their focus is on basic crops such as sugar and wheat, but they look at projects in the poultry and livestock sectors as well. As countries realize the limitations and the political risks of focusing only on farmland ventures, they will diversify their possibilities to improve their food security situation.

As the approach of sovereign funds is to focus on long-term food security, the type of investments in food companies might change as well. This will be a different approach from activist investors, such as hedge funds, that try to influence short-term management decisions purely for share price purposes.

Copyright 2010 – The Happy Future Group Consulting Ltd.

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