And while agtech has logged elevated VC activity in 2022, in this article, we’re exploring private equity agtech deals—overall deal value and deal count in the last five years and the top PE deals by deal size during that period. To start, 2020 was record-setting for PE agtech deals with $5.1 billion raised across 52 deals. After a slight dip in deal value in 2021, 2022 has seen $1.8 billion raised so far across 26 deals:
Top 10 PE agtech deals of the last five years (2017-present)
Below, we dive into top PE agtech deals by deal size from 2017 to present, per PitchBook data as of September 10, 2022. We provide some context for the company and its offerings, deal specifics and investors involved—all sourced from our platform. Wherever possible, we’ve linked companies and firms to a PitchBook profile preview. Our profile previews provide a cursory sense of the types of robust data PitchBook clients have access to with their subscription.
PE-backed Rovensa specializes in sustainable bionutrition, biocontrol and crop protection services, helping farmers and others in the agricultural sector produce safe, nutritious food. In July 2020, the company was aquired by Scottish private equity firm Partners Group via a leveraged buyout (LBO) worth $1.13 billion. Later that year, Lisbon-based Rovensa received an undisclosed amount of debt financing from Tikehau Capital.
Minneapolis’ DTN provides real-time business intelligence for organizations with complex supply chains. The actionable insights DTN offers via analytics and machine learning enable its agriculture, energy, weather and other markets to make better decisions. In June 2017, the company was acquired by Switzerland-based TBG AG—the investment vehicle of the Thyssen-Bornemisza family—for $900 million.
3. TH Milk
Russia’s TH Milk is a portfolio of two production facilities that produce and distribute milk, nut milk, yogurt, cream, butter, cheese and other dairy products. Based in Kaluga and Moscow, the two PE-backed facilities received $633 million of development capital from the Russian Direct Investment Fund and TH Group in May 2018.
Australia’s Webster operates an agribusiness company focused on broadacre farming, forestry, rural supplies, transport and nut tree farming. The company was acquired by Stahmann Webster, via its financial sponsor Public Sector Pension Investment Board, through a $572.52 million public-to-private LBO in February 2020. Subsequently, Webster was delisted from the Australian Securities Exchange and is no longer actively tracked in PitchBook’s platform.
5. Pinnacle Agriculture Holdings
Founded in 2012, Pinnacle Agriculture Holdings operated an agricultural retail distribution business that included seed production and sales, agricultural chemicals distribution, bulk handling of fertilizer, precision ag services and more. In March 2017, the Colorado-based company received $461.90 million in a revolving line of credit from Credit Suisse and others, which was part of a larger $797.07 million debt financing round. The PE-backed company went on to do another debt deal before it was acquired by J.R. Simplot Company in January 2020.
6. Lawson Grains
Lawson Grains is a grain farming company founded in 2012 and based in Albury, Australia. The company owns and operates hectares of diversified and large-scale cropping farms where wheat, barley, canola and other pulses are grown. In September 2021, the PE-backed company was acquired by Alberta Investment Management and New Forests through an LBO worth an estimated $437.69 million.
Israel’s Rivulis develops and manufactures micro- and drip irrigation products. The company offers drip lines, drip tapes, filters, hoses and tubing, and other irrigation-related products using a network of partners in markets including agriculture, horticulture and mining. The private equity-backed company was acquired by Singaporean sovereign wealth fund Temasek Holdings via a $420 million leveraged buyout in December 2020.
8. ESIM Chemicals
ESIM Chemicals, a PE-backed startup based in Austria, is a contract manufacturer of agricultural and crop protection chemicals, intermediates and other high-quality chemicals. The company was aquired by Florida-based Sun Capital Partners through an LBO worth $373.56 million in June 2018. Three years later, in June 2021, ESIM Chemicals went on to complete a $243.41 million debt refinancing via a loan from an undisclosed lender.
9. Pure Salmon
Headquartered in Abu Dhabi, Pure Salmon is an aquaculture production and processing company that leverages land-based recirculating aquaculture system (RAS) technology to produce nutritious salmon while protecting marine ecosystems and preserving biodiversity. Pure Salmon raised $358.80 million in PE growth funding from AquaMaof and Platina Partners in March 2020.
10. Raven Industries
South Dakota’s Raven Industries makes covers, liners, films and other products to solve technical and engineering challenges. In April 2022, the company was acquired by Illinois-based PE firm Industrial Opportunity Partners via a $350 million LBO. As a part of the transaction, Raven Industries received $175 million of debt financing in the form of a senior secured credit facility from Comvest Partners and an undisclosed amount of mezzanine financing from Norwest Mezzanine Partners.
Digging deeper into agtech
What do agtech companies do?
Agtech companies develop software and hardware systems that automate, manage and promote environmentally conscious farming and farming practices. Examples of the types of goods and services agtech startups and others working across the space develop include:
- Wireless sensors to monitor soil, air and animal health
- Hydroponic and aquaponic systems
- Remote-controlled irrigation systems
- Aerial photo technology to analyze field conditions
- Biotech platforms for crop yields
- Data-analysis software to augment planting, herd, poultry and livestock management
- Automation software to manage tasks
- Accounting software to manage expenses
Who is investing in agtech startups?
Of the 11,100+ investors pouring capital into agtech companies, six rise to the top. Investors who have led or participated in the most agtech startup funding deals are:
- National Science Foundation: 141 agtech deals
- Innovate UK: 139 agtech deals
- SVG Ventures-THRIVE: 128 agtech deals
- Horizon 2020 SME Instrument: 95 agtech deals
- Yield Lab: 86 agtech deals
- SOSV: 82 agtech deals
PitchBook’s agtech coverage
Agtech is one of dozens of industry verticals tracked in the PitchBook Platform, including data and insights on thousands of companies, deals, investors and exits. Agtech is also one of 12 emerging technologies that PitchBook analysts cover, publishing quarterly and annual research reports on the industry.
Emerging Tech Research: Agtech
Get your copy of PitchBook’s Q2 2022 agtech report for a closer look the landscape, VC activity, emerging opportunities and more.
More about agtech
Discover key insights on agtech’s strongest year on record
Download PitchBook’s 2021 Annual Agtech Report
Read up on precision ag and how it helps optimize farming operations
Read our blog post on the role of precision ag in farm management
Explore our precision agriculture market map
Get to know the precision ag ecosystem and why it’s attractive to VCs
Learn more about indoor farming and new startups in the space
Read our blog post for a deep dive into controlled environmental agriculture
*All data included in this article is from the PitchBook Platform as of September 10, 2022; data is subject to change frequently