Fundings in Brief: Groundwork BioAg Series B, France Launches Farmer Relief Plan, Indian Dairy Attracts Capital

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This week’s fundings in brief include the public and private funding of two Indian dairy operations, a farmer relief program in France and the cancellation of a private equity seafood deal.

France Announces $3b Agriculture Relief Package

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls announced a $3.3 billion relief package that will provide financial support for struggling farmers over the next three years. As part of the package, the French government will provide €350 million ($391 million) each year toward modernizing farms. The package includes a mechanism for increasing that annual about to €1 billion per year through co-financing by French regions and the European Union. The announcement followed a meeting with farm union officials while farmers gathered in Paris with over 1,500 tractors to protest against low prices and high costs.

Agribusiness PE Firm Paine & Partners Cancels Sale of Icicle Seafoods

Global private equity firm Paine & Partners has terminated an earlier agreement to sell Icicle Seafoods to Convergence Holdings, the Southeast Asian canning business, and fishing company Dominion Catchers, has been terminated. Paine & Partners, which focuses on investing in food and agribusinesses, said in a press release that it intends to reinitiate the sale process for Icicle Seafoods upon completion of the 2015 salmon season. Icicle Seafoods is a diversified North American seafood company, primarily processing seafood like wild salmon, halibut, cod, and herring in major fisheries throughout Alaska. Paine & Partners recently closed its fourth fund, Paine & Partners Capital IV, on $893 million.

PE-backed Prabhat Dairy Completes IPO

Indian integrated milk and dairy products company Prabhat Dairy has completed its initial public offering after its private equity backers — Rabo Equity Advisors, The Real Trust and French development finance institution Proparco — cut their share offering in half, on weak investor demand. Prabhat also extended the issue closure by three days and cut the price range on the final day to attract investment. The institutional portion was 76 percent subscribed, the retail portion just 26 percent, but the high net worth individual and corporate portion was 142 percent subscribed, according to Economic Times. The company has now raised Rs3 billion ($45.2 million) to repay loans and capital expenditure.

Groundwork BioAg Announces Close of Series B 

Groundwork BioAg has closed a Series B round with existing investor ICV, in addition to Middleland Capital’s ag technology venture fund, SRK Management Company, and F&C Climate Opportunity Partners. The amount was undisclosed. Groundwork BioAg manufactures mycorrhizal inoculants, a natural symbiosis between fungi and plants that improves nutrient uptake in over 90 percent of plant species. Some species, like corn, require mycorrhiza for optimal growth. According to the company, recent field trials have illustrated mycorrhizal inoculants ability to increase yield and reduce mortality rates in some varieties.

Sahayog Dairy Raises $1.6m from Acumen

Sahayog Dairy, Madhya Pradesh-based dairy startup, has raised $1.6 million in a Series A round with social venture capital investor Acumen. The startup, which sources its milk from five adjoining districts, intends to use the funding to expand its milk chilling and processing plant in the Dewas area of the state. Founded by Symbiosis Institute of Management alumnus Patidar, the company has grown its network to include 23,000 farmers across 300 villages in the region, and currently operates 272 primary milk collection centers.

eFishery Reels in Undisclosed Seed Round

Indonesia-based eFishery, a smart fish feed maker, closed an undisclosed seed round led by Aquaspark, an aquaculture focused private equity fund located in the Netherlands, and Indonesian venture capital firm Ideosource. The startup is taking an Internet of Things approach to improving feeding operations, one of the biggest problems facing commercial aquaculture businesses. eFishery has developed an integrated feeding solution for fish and shrimp which can sense the sea-dwellers’ appetites and notify the operator when it may be time for a feeding. The operator can then control feeding through a smartphone or tablet app. According to the company, the device can reduce up to 21 percent of an aquaculture operation’s feeding costs.

LNK Partners Sells Chipotle Pork Provider Niman Ranch to Perdue Farms

Private equity firm LNK Partners announced today that it has entered into a definitive agreement to sell Niman Ranch, which is Chipotle Mexican Grill’s largest pork supplier, and its parent company Natural Food Holdings (NFH), to Perdue Farms. According to NFH, the company’s flagship brand Niman Ranch brand is the premier all-natural brand of pork, beef, and lamb that is antibiotic free, hormone free, and raised humanely and sustainably through a network of U.S. family farms. The terms of the deal were not disclosed.

…and elsewhere…

Institute of Food Technologists Names 76th President

Colin Dennis has been announced as the newest president of the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT), succeeding Mary Ellen Camire, food science professor at the University of Maine’s School of Food & Agriculture. Created in 1939, the IFT describes itself as bringing together the brightest minds involved in the science of food, and working collaboratively toward providing people around the globe with safe, nutritious, and sustainable food. Today, individuals from over 90 countries are involved with the IFT’s work.

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