Sunridge Partners (UK), LLP (“Sunridge”), a specialist food and agriculture investor, helping companies become clear industry leaders, has held its annual North American Food & Agriculture Leadership Dinner in Charlestown, SC. The event was attended by industry CEOs and thought leaders, who came together to share thoughts around the headwinds and opportunities in our sectors.
Key topics covered included:
- Funding Liquidity & Innovation: Diminishing market liquidity and effect on the food, beverage and agriculture companies and industries. While both public and private market appetite for risk was diminishing, participants acknowledged that there was still strong demand from end customers to drive investment and innovation in more ethically, sustainably and restoratively sourced products; solutions that combat the effects of rising inflation (private label products, reducing labour and other costs in the value chain); and improved health outcomes via food. Dinner guests believed that future innovations may be less capital intensive and involve more transparency and collaboration in the food chain to address the above issues.
- Reducing Labour Inputs: Many parts of agriculture and food are labour intensive. Driven by COVID, decreases in labour force participation, immigration policy failures, and other factors, the cost of labour is rising rapidly. Additionally, it is increasing challenging to achieve historical productivity levels at a time when many countries are about to experience demographic declines. The group discussed the importance that mechanization will play in our industry going forward. However, many of the tasks in food, beverage and agriculture supply chains, while repetitive, are non-standardized, and require more research, innovation and capital to yield the desired results.
- Multipolarity: With rising geopolitical tensions, global supply chains have become more complex, uncertain and bifurcated. As such, traditional sourcing and supplier relationships are being re-evaluated, with a strong push towards resilience, simplicity, disintermediation, and near/friend shoring. Moreover, the group discussed that success in many categories now requires operating further up and down the value chain and closely integrating systems and processes.
As always, the lively discussions provided participants with intriguing insights, new connections and actionable follow-ups.