Australian company Alterra has big plans for avocados

Agricultural land developer Alterra is many things to many people but at its heart is an investment in land and water, says managing director Oliver Barnes. The company has pivoted into horticulture via an industry that has captured the hearts of consumers and the minds of some of the biggest investors in the world.

Barnes, who grew up on a flower farm in Kenya, says the concept is to take “broken down” land and regenerate it by investing in water infrastructure and reviving soils. “There are very few things ASX investors can look at from a defensive asset class, as recent events have shown, and Alterra brings agriculture and water back into that,” he told Stockhead. They then bridge the gap between capital and the farm gate to bring development financing into key horticultural regions in Australia.

On Thursday, it began this process with a strategic agreement with family office buy-side advisory firm CapRaise. The partnership will provide Alterra access to an extensive international network of large family offices and additional investor portfolio worth more than $15 billion.

Alterra, in other words, is a bit more than just a land developer. The company Alterra listed in 2008 as an agricultural land developer. It has always had an ESG, or environmental, social and governance mindset. Until 2018 it was turning suboptimal tracts of land into carbon sinks, legacy deals set to earn the company decent income until 2027, but it pivoted last year into avocados. The company finds land assets that are ready to be regenerated and leads the development process. It partners with others who do the long-term farming.

At its first project, the 300-hectare Carpenters project in the “golden triangle” agricultural region of Pemberton in south-west WA, this includes digging out a dam, putting in irrigation and fencing, and regenerating soils.

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