AgroFresh Solutions is an innovator in advanced proprietary technologies that enhance the freshness, quality and value of fresh produce. The company’s products are based on 1-MCP technology, a chemical that blocks the ethylene receptors in plant cells and temporarily delays the ripening process. The primary application of the 1-MCP technology has been in preserving apples during the storage and transportation process. AgroFresh maintains an 80% market share in preserving apples through 1-MCP technology, which makes up 60% of the company’s revenue. AgroFresh continues to diversify its revenue away from apples through applications for additional fruits and vegetables, including pears, plums, avocados, bananas and broccoli. The company has also developed technology that helps farmers better manage harvest decisions and plant-based edible coatings that allow produce to stay fresher longer at retail.
Currently 45% of all produce grown goes to waste, and food waste makes up about 8% of all greenhouse gas emissions. In 2015, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which calls for a 50% reduction in food waste at the retail level and reduction of food losses throughout the supply chain. AgroFresh’s products are all natural, create value for its customers and benefit the environment. Packers that use the AgroFresh 1-MCP product for apples experience a 6-percentage point higher ROI; that value extends to retailers, who see 12% higher sales volume and 25% less spoilage. The increased supply of fresh apples allows domestic growers to meet most of the demand for apples, reducing the need for carbon-intensive imports. Since the company was founded in 2002, AgroFresh’s technology has allowed over 8 billion pounds of apples to be sold rather than processed and an additional 500 thousand pounds to be sold at retail rather than sent to a landfill. The company estimates that its products reduce over 800 thousand tons of CO2 emissions annually, the equivalent of the emissions of 170,000 cars. AgroFresh’s efforts to reduce CO2 emissions also extend to its internal operations. For example, the company’s European headquarters in Valencia, Spain reduced its emissions by 78,000 pounds through an agricultural packaging recycling initiative.
Agrochemical products are highly regulated by governmental agencies and, while there is consensus on the data needed to determine the safety of agrochemical products, each country has its own legislative process and specific requirements to determine if a product can earn registration for commercial use. AgroFresh has completed more than 400 international health and environmental tests to show its products are safe for consumers, workers and the environment. The company has been granted over 500 patents in over 30 countries, and its products have been approved for use in over 50 countries. AgroFresh invests extensively in research and development to ensure the development of new innovative products while maintaining regulatory compliance.
AgroFresh’s commitment to sustainability and its asset-light business model have enabled the company to maintain EBITDA margins above 30% and generate strong free cash flow. The company’s focus on sustainable solutions has also been independently recognized; AgroFresh recently received the Overall Food Quality Solution of the Year Award at the inaugural AgTech Breakthrough Awards. The company was commended for its unparalleled portfolio of solutions designed to help maintain freshness, reduce food waste, and maximize sustainable resources throughout the supply chain.
By Marcus Moore
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Zeo Capital Advisors is a fundamental investment manager with a short-duration credit mutual fund, a sustainable high yield mutual fund and separately managed accounts. Marcus Moore authored this piece and is the Assistant Portfolio Manager and Senior Credit Analyst at Zeo Capital Advisors. For more information contact Zeo directly at 415-875-5604 or visit www.zeo.com.
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