Indoor farming the ‘next generation' of infra investment

Christopher Walker speaks to Oliver Williams about why institutional investors should allocate capital to large-scale indoor farming.
Manulife Investment Management has some $4.1bn (€3.88bn) in agricultural investments and oversees approximately 400,000 acres of prime farmland and agriculture investments in major agricultural regions of the US, Canada, Chile, and Australia.

In a paper, Farm to Fork: overcoming supply chain vulnerabilities with agriculture infrastructure innovations, Oliver Williams, the global head of agricultural investments, sets out how “a more integrated agriculture infrastructure investment approach could offer a new paradigm.”

Williams says there are two crucial factors in the background. Firstly, with a growing world population and rising incomes, global food systems will need to deliver 56% more food by 2050. “The growing middle-class income groups in Asia, India, and Africa are having a major impact on global food demand,” he says.

The second is the war in Ukraine, which has emphasized the importance of food security. “This is likely to accelerate a focus on the need to de-globalize food production where possible, with major implications for investors in the agricultural sector in the US,” he says. The US imports more than 30% of its fresh vegetables and over half of its fresh fruit. Williams also notes the importance of Russia as the leading fertilizer exporter with a 13% share of the world market. Fertilizer is a major cost for the agriculture industry.

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