Roc Partners

Corporatisation journey of food production

Corporatisation is one of the largest mega trends in Australian food and agriculture. Managing Partner Brad Mytton and Partner Frank Barillaro discuss what this trend means for the sector as well as the growing opportunity from an investment perspective from both local and offshore investors.

Frank Barillaro: Brad, the corporatisation of the Australian food sector has made significant gain, particularly in the last ten years, and certainly the last five. How do you see that trend continuing and what do you think it means from an investment perspective as we look at food and agriculture here in Australia?

Brad Mytton: Yeah, I think corporatisation is one of the largest mega trends we have in our sector. So, what we're seeing is those successful small family operations acquiring their neighbours, that journey then becomes more of a corporatisation journey. And those small corporates then sort of morph into large corporates. I think our, our investment capital really facilitates that journey. There's a lot of people that talk a lot about succession, there's sort of generational change and often there's external capital needed for those journeys. So, a core part of our strategy is really looking to find those best partners, the best operating partners, the best management team in that a given sector. And that corporatization journey plays into that very well. So, I expect that'll continue at pace during 2024, it's something that needs to happen, there's an increasing population and there's constraints on land and being more efficient having an uptake of technology to support that more intensive production. All of those things lend themselves to more of a corporatized model rather than a family farmer model. So, a lot more of that to come, it's a global trend, it's happening everywhere, and it presents opportunities for our investment dollars.

Frank Barillaro: I read a report recently from Abares that ninety percent of corporate profits in the farming sector come from the top twenty-five percent of farms. How do you see that play as an opportunity for people like ourselves to invest into the agriculture sector and take advantage of that ability to corporatize family farming?

Brad Mytton: Yeah, it's a core tenant to our strategy, right? We want to be investing in the market leaders for exactly that and that's one of the reasons that we like investing in those large operations. There's clearly benefit to scale, there's clearly more profits to be made. There's operational leverage that plays through some of those larger sort of production enterprises. So, the ability to be part of those market leaders is a lower way to make investment money than to sort of be backing one of the smaller guys. So again, see a lot of that continuing to play through, I think the market needs capital like ours to help facilitate that. And some of those, export surpluses that Australia enjoys, can be facilitated with more investment.

Frank Barillaro: Yeah. Great. Food and agriculture here in Australia has probably been a bit of an underserviced market from an institutional perspective. It certainly feels like we lag twenty, thirty years behind America or the North America markets where there has been that corporatization. Do you see that as an opportunity going forward and the potential for further interest from institutional investors in this space?

Brad Mytton: Yeah, absolutely. And we've clearly benefited from it over the last five years, right? Some of the really fantastic companies that are now in our portfolio that were really in sectors that hadn't had much institutional investment in previously. So, I think we've been beneficiaries of that historically, and I think there's more, there's more companies out there that'll meet those requirements as well. We're seeing more interest now, there's still a lot of interest from offshore pension funds, there's a lot of interest from offshore strategics in some of these sectors. So being there and being boots on the ground to go and meet the teams, work out who's the best at a given sector and make those investments as a core part of what we do.

Frank Barillaro: Fantastic.

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