The Next Billion:

Supporting Better Agriculture

In the last 50 years, agricultural practices have changed dramatically due in part to the effects of population growth, technological advancements, and globalization. Looking ahead, world population is expected to grow from its current level of 7.6 billion to nearly 8.5 billion by 2030. In 2016, 815 million people were estimated to be chronically undernourished. Feeding an additional billion people will place demands on the agricultural industry, accelerating the need for additional investment in food safety, sustainable farming practices, and product innovation.

Food Safety

Demographic changes such as a rising middle class in emerging markets have fueled demand for higher-quality food items, including milk, meat, and seafood. In the last eight years, KKR has made multiple investments in Chinese agricultural companies that focus on food safety and access. Learn more about these investments here.

Beyond Production: Food Distribution

Food producers are not the only ones that need to optimize their business for safer and more sustainable practices. Food distributors such as our portfolio company US Foods face similar challenges and opportunities.

In 2015, US Foods became the first nationwide foodservice distributor in the United States to earn Marine Stewardship Council certification for its distribution centers' chain of custody. In 2016, US Foods won the KKR Eco-Innovation Award for its Serve Good product line. Learn more here. US Foods is also committed to other ESG-related initiatives and participates in KKR’s Green Solutions Platform.

Agricultural Innovation

To meet increasing food demands while using fewer natural resources, food producers must determine how to maintain or, in many cases, increase their yields while using less land and less water amid unpredictable climatic conditions. Although many of our investments in agricultural companies use innovative technologies, we believe Sundrop Farms is the epitome of innovation through its core business.

Contributing to Economic Development Through Agriculture

From the types of employees hired to the benefits provided, responsible labor practices can help create a more dependable and healthier workforce. Santanol and Afriflora (a current and former portfolio company, respectively) have focused on implementing responsible labor practices and offer value-add programs for employees.

Better Agriculture Callout Afriflora

Located in Ziway, Ethiopia, Afriflora cultivates and produces Fair Trade Certified, sustainably grown roses. Afriflora values its employees and the local community. The company provides wages that are substantially higher than peer agricultural companies, follows a gender equity plan designed to fairly distribute development opportunities, and promotes skill development. Afriflora has launched community development initiatives focused on health and education for workers and their families. Afriflora’s actions promote a mutually beneficial relationship that results in tangible impacts on the business and community more broadly. 

KKR exited Afriflora in 2018.

Looking Ahead

By focusing on food safety and security, land use, labor practices, or food distribution, companies and investors who promote innovation and efficiency will play a critical role in meeting future challenges and creating a better agricultural system.

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Case Study

Yuehai Feed Group: Investing in Aquatic Feed and Nutrition Solutions (2015) >

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Case Study

US Foods: Focusing on Food Quality and Safety (2015) >

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Case Study

Sundrop Farms: Expanding Suitable Farming Locations (2015) >

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Afriflora case study thumbnail

Case Study

Afriflora: Supporting Workers (2015) >

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Cofco 200X200

Case Study

COFCO: Meat Converting Waste To Fertilizer (2017) >

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