By Andy Sambidge
Financial consulting firm says project involves commercial scale production, trading of fruit
Clarity, a new Abu Dhabi-based financial consulting firm focusing on advisory and investment in food, water and energy, announced on Tuesday its first food project in Macedonia.
The project involves commercial scale production of apples, as well as trading in other fruits, with wholly-owned operational facilities such as cold stores, packing and grading facilities, it said in a statement.
Supported by Al-Otaiba Group, Clarity's business will be Shari'ah compliant and will look at helping companies, individuals, and governments in the region, as they deal with increasing demand, limited supply and rising prices, it added.
Nicholas Lodge, managing partner of Clarity, said: "Agriculture has truly become an asset class, with many funds and high profile, successful investors already active in it across the globe".
"This [investment] comes in response to the need for food security in the Gulf region and the increasing demand for food globally. The Macedonia venture will capitalise on this current trend and the opportunities that the country offers in this sector."
He added that investments in agriculture in general look positive over the medium to long-term. Food prices are expected to steadily rise over the next decades, with global population growth to eight billion from the current 6.5 billion.
In Macedonia, Clarity has secured apple orchards and created a complete value chain for the project, from farmland and government support on local and national levels to logistics and distribution networks.
It has landed wholesale and retail distributors for the produce both in Europe and the UAE. The company will start supplying supermarket chains in Germany, a country which has one the most expensive farmlands, as early as the end of the year, Lodge added.
Investments in Macedonia to date have reached €1.5m (AED7.8m). When fully developed, the project will have cost around €5m (AED24m) to produce 4,500 tonnes of fruit from 30 hectares of orchards and other growers, and is expected to generate excellent returns for investors, Lodge said.
The company is currently looking at concluding another deal in Africa for local and regional investors and is working on a project in the region for a local client to supply hydroponic produce (grown in water and nutrients) locally.
It is also looking at other opportunities on behalf of regional investors for large scale production of crops such as wheat, soy, potatoes, onions and carrots in areas such as Africa, Eastern Europe and the Balkans.