AFS LP BUYOUT OF LEADING SOUTH AFRICAN FREE-RANGE POULTRY OPERATION SIGNALS MONUMENTAL JUNCTURE FOR CONSCIOUS CONSUMERISM MARKET IN AFRICA
As part of its continued endeavour to enable food security across Africa, the Africa Food Security LP (AFS LP) has successfully closed its investment in Elgin Free Range Chickens Holdings (EFRCH).
EFRCH is a leading South African vertically integrated free-range poultry operation, capturing the ever-increasing conscious consumerism market of sustainably sourced products from farm to fork. The independent farming and food processing operation takes pride in meeting rigorous quality and ethical standards and currently supplies free range chickens to leading South African retailers, food service companies, restaurants, and its own retail outlets.
The AFS LP, which is the sophomore fund of Zebu Investment Partners GP Limited (ZIP), focuses on food production and processing throughout Africa. The fund is underpinned by the assertion of the positive impact which investing across the agricultural value chain can have for food security, through improved reliability of the supply chain for processors.
As a way of providing ethically raised chicken, free of antibiotics and growth promoters, founder Jeanne Groenewald initially started supplying chickens to her family and friends in 1996. Since then, she has meticulously grown and developed the business into a leading supplier of the top retailers in South Africa and has also successfully launched the Company’s own retail outlets in the Western Cape. At c.60%, poultry is the most consumed animal protein in South Africa, and with the CAGR for free-range chicken expected to continue in the double digits, there is still abundant scope and opportunity for the Company to drive further penetration. This presents a compelling market opportunity for AFS LP in a lucrative and emerging segment of the poultry industry of South Africa.
ZIP Senior Managing Partner, Dennis Matangira, commented on South African consumer consumption patterns, “The pandemic came at a time when the global food system was already under strain. In Africa, this exposed numerous vulnerabilities within our food value chain, and influenced more consumers to seek healthier and more sustainable food sources. Poultry is the leading animal protein consumed in South Africa, and we want to play an active role in developing the free-range segment of this market, and by doing so, increasing access to all.”
The equity buyout represents a new dawn for EFRCH and the opportunity to increase production capacity, geographical footprint, and continued high ethical and animal welfare standards.
Founder Jeanne Groenewald has been instrumental in expanding the business and entrenching it as a trusted brand with ethical and humane operating practices in line with international best practice. Commenting on the reason the Company has decided to partner with Zebu and her decision to exit, Jeanne mentioned “I often refer to the company as my first born. It has been 25 years in the making and the time has come to release this child to fly to bigger heights. As with any protective mother I was very selective, in choosing the right investor to ensure the company culture, morals and ethics are upheld and continue into the future. Zebu ticked all these boxes. They have ESG at the forefront of their investment criteria, are passionate about animal welfare, sustainability, and people upliftment. I wish them well in taking this company to its next level.”
ZIP’s Senior Managing Partner further highlighted the impact that the diversity and strength of the EFRCH team has had on performance to date, “Not only is EFRCH female founded, but also female led, through its senior management structures. This is a key consideration as part of our gender-lens investing priorities, and we also believe is a reason the company has been able to achieve the successes it has to date. We are looking forward to continuing to embed diversity, ethics and positive impact across the value chain, and in the community within which EFRCH operates”.
The AFS LP’s Technical Assistance Facility (TAF), will explore funding inclusive projects targeting development of suppliers within the free-range poultry value chain.
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About Zebu Investment Partners
Zebu Investment Partners (ZIP) is a private equity fund manager established to invest in food production and processing throughout the African continent. Managing funds totalling $121m, we focus on creating transformational opportunities for companies along the food value chain to improve and enhance African food production, while bringing investors long-term, above-market returns. Our funds’ focus is on growth equity investments within Africa, including a strong ESG focus. Further information is available at http://www.zebuinvestments.com/.