‘Food is a vast area of change – and for investing opportunities you want change’: We meet a food fund manager on the INVESTING SHOW
Investors are used to funds investing in specific countries and sectors, from mining, to property and technology, but mention one that invests in food and many will register some surprise.
Food is a little explored investment area. Yet, we all eat every day, and great businesses have emerged from growing, producing and selling it.
‘No one really knows much about the world of food, but it’s a vast area of change and if you are investing for opportunities then you want change’, says Henry Boucher, of the Sarasin Food and Agriculture Opportunities Fund.
On this episode of the Investing Show, Henry joins Simon Lambert and Richard Hunter to explain how from field to fork, and the consumer economy to climate change, there are fascinating changes taking place in the food chain and opportunities to invest.
How we produce food and what we eat is also increasingly coming under the spotlight, from the rise in veganism, to the desire to reduce food miles, encourage regenerative farming and cut fertiliser use.
Henry is keen to stress that the fund is not about investing solely in agriculture, but about backing companies that are involved in the entire food chain, from the materials and tools we use to grow food, to producing it, packaging it and ultimately selling it to the consumer.
He discusses why he holds companies that range from John Deere to Ocado – but avoids story stocks of the moment as Beyond Meat – and how investors can help with problems such as food security and trying to make agriculture more sustainable and reduce carbon emissions.
Henry has managed the Sarasin fund since its launch 11 years ago and he says that it looks at the ‘long-term slightly hidden trends’ in the world of food and how they can create a tailwind for companies over a long period time.
He says: ‘Those tailwinds include population growth, it includes things like urbanisation – as people move to the cities their diets change because they’ve got more access to supermarkets and things like that, and it includes just the rising standards of living across the world and the changes in our habits and in our health trends and concerns.’
He also explains why one of the key issues with food security and the need to feed more people is food waste, whether in production or consumption, and that technology can be a key to solving that.