Canadian credit agency to invest in food companies

by Eric Schroeder
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OTTAWA — Export Development Canada (E.D.C.), Canada’s export credit agency, has committed to invest up to C$7.5 million ($7.4 million) in Avrio Ventures Limited Partnership II (Avrio II), a venture capital fund that invests in food and agricultural companies.

The Avrio II fund will target Canadian companies operating in subsectors such as advanced agriculture, industrial bio-products, agricultural biotechnology, natural and organic consumer packaged goods, renewable ingredients, food safety and functional foods.

“E.D.C. believes in the potential of Canada’s food agriculture sector, including advanced agriculture, organic foods, nutraceuticals, and functional foods,” said Alison Nankivell, lead investment manager, investments, at E.D.C. “We recognize the competitive advantages Canadian companies have in the space and see many applications in high growth emerging markets.”

In 2006, E.D.C. invested C$6 million in Avrio I.

“Avrio and E.D.C. have been working together to open international markets for their portfolio companies through targeted introductions within E.D.C.’s relationships with major foreign multinational companies,” said Justine Hendricks, vice-president, light manufacturing and resources, E.D.C. “Over the first five years of the first fund, Avrio was able to grow the portfolio’s exports from under C$10 million per year to C$50 million a year, a 400% increase. That’s a huge boon for the bottom lines of the fund’s companies and helps improve Canada’s trade performance.”

E.D.C. said its investments program focuses on two groups of companies: small- and mid-sized companies that want to grow their business by going global; and “next-generation” exporters — those technology companies that need capital and assistance to develop and garner international success.

As of Dec. 31, 2011, E.D.C. had committed to C$694 million in investments, including C$320 million to next-generation exporters, C$120 million to mid-market exporters, and C$254 million to connecting with emerging markets.

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