“A Private Equity Veteran Wants to End Animal Factory Farming”
by Paul Tullis
Bloomberg Businessweek, October 15, 2018
I’ve written a number of features for Businessweek, as well as a couple of stories for the Tech section. Please consider the following query for Finance.
Jeremey Coller is a profane British financier who wants to do to Big Meat what activist shareholders have done for Big Oil: Hold the industry accountable for the negative externalities that he and others believe will lead to stranded assets. Meanwhile he’s trying to get the financial sector to factor publicly-traded ag firms’ environmental, public health, and animal welfare-associated risks into its ESG assessments (I wrote about the incorporation of ESG data into the Bloomberg terminal for Fast Company.) Though vegan from his necktie down to his shoes, Coller maintains his numbers are as sound as his ethics when convincing investors they need to establish intensive farming as an ESG issue and look it through the same lens as fossil fuels. “There’s a knowledge gap when it comes to factory farming, which has all the hallmarks of a stranded asset,” he says. Among these: GHG emissions from livestock operations, overuse of antibiotics leading to dangerous superbugs, soda taxes, added costs from spreading cage-free egg laws, food poisoning scandals…”All this will end up on their balance sheets and lead to devaluation.”
Coller also shows the opportunities available to food companies from the burgeoning alternative proteins market. The network of 57 investors he has organized, Farm Animal Investment Risk & Return (AUM: $4.8t), recently released a report estimating over 8% growth, to $5.2b annually, in the next couple of years through companies such as Impossible Meats and Beyond Meat, which make veggie burgers with an unprecedented similarity of look, taste, and texture to beef burgers, and others. It also describes steps taken (and not taken) at retailers like Tesco, Whole Foods, and Costco to diversify their protein offerings and meet expected demand from millennials, who devour meat alternatives in amounts higher than previous generations. Coller puts his money where his soy milk is: His foundation was last month part of a $24.7m Series A round (also included was Hong Kong’s Horizon Ventures) for Bay Area startup Perfect Day, which makes an animal-free dairy product with a nutritional profile and food functionality similar to cow’s milk (no cashew milk, this; it’s more of a biotech process to make the stuff).
I can deliver 800-1200 words by Monday. What do you think?