A British food and agriculture investment company is setting up shop in Minneapolis. The Wheatsheaf Group — part of the Grosvenor Estate headed by the Duke of Westminster — is looking for new investment opportunities in North America.
"Minneapolis is an ideal location for us, both geographically and because it is a burgeoning center that is home to many leading businesses within the food and agriculture industry," said Sylvio Petto, Wheatsheaf's managing director for North America, in a statement.
Before joining Wheatsheaf, Petto worked for Cargill on various projects between 2006 and 2013, and for Syngenta as head of strategy and business development for North America. Cargill and Sygenta are both based in the Twin Cities.
Wheatsheaf is one of three parts of the Grosvenor Estate, which also includes the Grosvenor Group, one of the world's largest privately owned property businesses that develops, manages and invests in property in more than 60 cities globally. The duke, Hugh Grosvenor, has an estimated worth of more than $10 billion, according to several published lists.
Wheatsheaf's business is similar to that of venture capitalists, but operates differently by taking a farsighted approach and investing for the long term, a company spokesman said.
The company is focused on contributing long-lasting solutions to improve efficiency in the production of healthy and nutritious food, he said. That includes reducing reliance on antibiotics, chemicals and fossil fuels, and using raw materials more efficiently with less waste.
Wheatsheaf's portfolio includes 21 companies worldwide, including seven in North America. They include New Jersey-based AeroFarms, which grows leafy greens through a patented system using no soil or sunlight; San Francisco-based BluWrap, whose technology naturally extends the shelf life of foods; Seattle-based TriStrata Group, which engineers and implements innovative ozone food safety applications; and Vancouver-based Ostara, which recovers phosphorus from wastewater and produces a fertilizer that doesn't pollute.
In addition to supporting the seven companies in North America, Petto said Wheatsheaf will be assessing other innovative technologies being developed in the United States, Canada and Mexico.
New global patterns of food consumption are creating challenges, he said. Coupled with a growing global population, those conditions "will require long-term solutions to ensure that future demands are met, and that the sustainability of food production and natural resources is assured," Petto said.
Tom Meersman • 612-673-7388