Funds managed by North American farmland and timber giant Hancock Natural Resource Group are poised to snap up two almond properties worth around $12 million in the NSW Riverina and South Australia’s Riverland. The deals continue a strong trend of offshore institutional investors bulking up on almond and macadamia orchards in Australia’s premium growing regions.
Title deeds show Sustainable Farmland Holdings Australia placed a caveat over Tharbogang Almond Orchards near Griffith in the NSW Riverina.The 85-hectare property, with 80 hectares of young almond, trees lies 30 kilometres north-west of the Almondco processing facility at Hanwood. Sustainable Farmland Holdings Australia (SFHA) is ultimately owned by Japan’s largest insurance company Nippon Life.
Andrew Strahley, head of Australasian Agricultural Investments at Hancock, is a director of SFHA, along with a number of other Hancock executives.Hancock (unrelated to Gina Rinehart’s Hancock Prospecting) manages over $US3.6 billion ($5.4 billion) of farmland assets and $US10.5 billion of timberland on behalf of international investors. It is owned by Canadian financial services giant Manulife, which has more than $1 trillion of assets under management.
Last year SFHA acquired 206 hectares of vineyards at Belvidere west of Langhorne Creek in the Fleurieu wine region from French wine and spirits group Pernod Ricard for $22 million. Mr Strahley is also a director of Attis Farms, which has placed a caveat over a 131-hectare property at 1251 Kingston Road, New Residence in South Australia’s Riverland.
The property is owned by local almond, stone fruit and vegetable growers Peter and Sadie George. It comprises a 131-hectare parcel with 20 hectares of almonds, about 5.5 hectares of citrus varieties and 90 hectares of broadacre irrigation land. Attis Farms is ultimately owned by Brown Pelican Farms, a company tied to the Teachers Retirement System of Louisiana. Last year, Attis Farms acquired a 300-hectare property on two titles at Moorook near Loxton in the Riverland paying $11.7 million for the land and water rights.
While the price of almonds has fallen recently due the combination of a record harvest in California (the world’s biggest grower) and a decline in exports to China due to COVID-19-related logistics issues, Colliers International rural agent Jesse Manuel said investors were taking a long-term view. “The COVID-19 situation has really intensified the importance of food and agriculture and Australian produce in particular, and we’re receiving inquiries from segments of the market that have historically focused on traditional real estate investments markets,” said Mr Manuel who is marketing the NSW and SA almond properties with colleague Tim Altschwager,
The agents recently listed another two almond properties for sale: Jakad Almonds, which has a 75-hectare orchard at Lindsay Point in Victoria’s Sunraysia region and Coughlan Road Almonds, an 83-hectare orchard at Leeton, in the NSW Riverina. Price expectations are upwards of $80,000 per hectare for mature plantings. Last year, Belgian sugar producer Finasucre acquired Australia’s largest portfolio of macadamia orchards for almost $60 million.
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