Isara, a new specialist investor in the food sector, has launched its debut £300m fund focused on improving the efficiency, quality and sustainability of food supply systems across the UK, Ireland and Western Europe.
Isara intends to invest in food production and distribution businesses, helping to stabilise and transform the existing food ecosystem which is undergoing structural shifts caused by rising inflation, the COVID-19 pandemic, labour supply scarcity, and a growing commitment to sustainability.
Led by Michael Rice, Isara’s team has extensive expertise working with businesses and management teams across the food sector, including Eight Fifty Food Group, Orchard House Foods, Chaucer Foods, West Cornwall Pasty Co, Heron Foods and Seabrooks, bringing hands-on experience and a network of specialist advisors to support portfolio companies.
While focusing on majority shareholding investments, the fund’s flexible investment approach will facilitate investment in opportunities where others cannot invest, as well as enabling Isara to take a longer-term view than traditional private equity investors. Practically, this means Isara can support the capital-intensive projects required to deliver radical improvement in the food industry which most investors are unable to deliver.
The fund is backed by the Sadel Group, a private family office which invests and operates in the Real Estate, Cold Storage and Energy sectors, predominantly in the UK & Western Europe. The Isara team will execute their own separate acquisition and investment thesis, while also being able to leverage the high level of technical skill present in existing Sadel businesses to help implement value creation plans where relevant.
Specific areas of consideration for Isara will include improving the carbon footprint of the businesses they invest in, ensuring industry leading corporate governance, supporting and strengthening leadership teams and workforces, and creating sustainable growth.
Michael Rice said: “We are on the cusp of a potential food crisis in the UK. We believe existing food production and supply chains have become inherently inefficient, and are under unsustainable levels of strain from a number of factors including the coronavirus crisis, increasing energy costs, food inflation and financial market volatility.
“At Isara, our fund will be used to champion increasing the efficiency and sustainability of food systems, seeking to address the challenges of long-term underinvestment, labour supply challenges, supply chain security and sustainability. Not only is this good business, but this will also create seismic benefits for the wider economy and, ultimately, the sector’s impact on the planet.”