Forming local partnerships is key to achieving operational excellence and continuous improvement in food and agriculture investments. Colin Butterfield (pictured), CEO of Solum Partners outlines the firm’s differentiated approach to investing in this sector.
Forming local partnerships is key to achieving operational excellence and continuous improvement in food and agriculture investments. Colin Butterfield, CEO of Solum Partners outlines the firm’s differentiated approach to investing in this sector.
In what areas has your firm experienced the most significant growth?
At Solum, we are committed to playing a positive role in changing how food is produced while supporting the local communities we invest in, with the aim to drive sustainable impact through active portfolio management. The development of our ESG program has been a major focus for the organisation over the past several years as we have progressed from annual audits to now also measuring carbon emissions, tracking of numerous quantitative metrics, and developing ESG North Star goals for each of our investments.
Are there obstacles which are specific to emerging managers and how have you been working around them?
We have been fortunate to have strong support from our investors, a global portfolio of vertically integrated food and agriculture investments, a comprehensive network in key global production regions, a hands-on approach underpinned by deep industry knowledge, and a meaningful history of thematic investing in the space. This has enabled us to continue to delve into industry trends, pinpoint opportunities, and invest with excellent companies and families as well as expand our investor base to those who value our differentiated approach to investing in the food and agriculture sector.
What are your business objectives for the year ahead and how do they align with the needs of your clients?
Solum prioritises forming local partnerships with leading operators and is dedicated to achieving operational excellence and continuous improvement in our investments. As such, our business objectives for the year ahead are to stay true to our core values and deliver attractive uncorrelated risk-adjusted returns, regardless of the macroeconomic environment, while helping our food production system evolve to meet the nutritional demands of a growing global population in a sustainable and equitable manner.
How can you best ensure you deliver value add to your client base?
We believe that excellent performance is not always achieved in a linear way in agriculture and, that by investing in people and technology and focusing on ESG, we can make agricultural producers more sustainable and better equipped to endure market cycles and adapt to economic conditions. This includes a particular focus on driving operational and resource efficiency, creating a safe, supportive, and inclusive working environment, and implementing robust governance frameworks. Through our owner-operator approach, we are proud to partner with farmers and industry leaders to not only provide capital but also foster operational improvements and leverage vertical integration to help ensure they are at the forefront of the industry and positioned for continued and accelerated success.
What is your outlook for the sector in which you operate for the coming year and how is your firm best placed to support clients navigate the environment?
Our outlook on the food and agriculture sector is positive despite the inflationary cost environment and increasingly uncertain geopolitical and macroeconomic landscape. This view relies heavily on our thematic approach to investing in vertically integrated producers in sectors with compelling fundamentals that we expect to thrive regardless of the economic conditions as well as leveraging our expertise in supporting excellent companies and families and helping them reach their goals through our deep agricultural and investing experience.
Colin Buttefield, CEO, Solum Partners