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The vehicle will focus on healthy food and related supply chains – chief investment officer Ross Iverson said future efforts may broaden to include other elements of health and wellness.
May 5, 2020. By Chris Janiec, Agri Investor. Excerpted with permission.
Manna Tree Partners surpassed a target of $100 million to close its debut fund on $141.5 million, drawing on a global investor base made up largely of high-net-worth individuals and family offices.
Co-founder and chief investment officer Ross Iverson told Agri Investor that after being established in 2018 by a group that included Gabrielle ‘Ellie’ Rubenstein, Manna Tree initially planned to raise $50 million for the vehicle.
This was to be deployed within 12 months as part of an effort to establish itself with investors. However, after reaching that milestone within four months, Iverson said, the firm decided to double the target for Manna Tree Partners Fund I, which it ultimately exceeded.
“We had a pretty robust pipeline of investors at the end of the year and the public markets were up so much that there was, from my point of view, a lot of people reallocating larger dollars into private equity vehicles,” said Iverson. “I think we benefited and received a lot of those reallocations by being an interesting first fund that people had been tracking during 2019.”
While Vail, Colorado-headquartered Manna Tree did not raise capital in Asia, the firm encountered relatively balanced demand across the Middle East, Western Europe, Mexico, Canada, and the US, Iverson said. The fund eventually attracted 131 LPs across 18 countries.
Many such family office investors, he said, tend to immediately characterize food-focused investments as being too linked to either commodity-driven returns or technologies yet to be widely adopted by farmers. By building relationships with the second and third generations within family offices, said Iverson, Manna Tree found investors very focused on positive social impact and often motivated by personal experience with healthy eating.
“Everybody kind of knew the story 10 years ago, but nobody had really come to them with an investment product to help operationalize some of the theories they had conjured up about how poor some of the food was that they were consuming,” he said. “A lot of the foodtech and agtech companies go so hard on the environment side – where we were really resonating with the LPs was more on the medical and health benefits.”