[Photo provided by SK Corp.]
SK Corp., the holding entity of South Korea’s third largest conglomerate SK Group, has agreed with Chinese food company Joyvio Group to jointly launch a 100 billion won ($86.7 million) worth fund that will invest in the fast growing alternative food market as part of efforts to accelerate its environment, social and governance push.
The two companies have signed a memorandum of understanding for the investment, SK announced Monday.
Joyvio Group, established by china’s Legend Holdings in 2012, engages in fruit seeding, planting and marketing with other food businesses. It operates various top fruit and seafood brands in China, Australia and Chile.
SK invested 220 billion won in the Chinese food company in 2019, together with a private equity firm from home.
Through the new fund, SK and Joyvio aim to strengthen partnership to invest in alternative protein producers, cooperate with IT-based food technology firms and support global alternative protein companies’ entry into China.
China-based fund manager ZRC will operate the fund. SK will finance 18 billion won for the fund, and other Chinese food companies and Chongqing provincial capital contribute the rest.
The latest move is part of SK Group’s green push that focuses on hydrogen, carbon capture and storage and alternative food businesses.
The company last year invested 54 billion won in U.S. food startup Perfect Day, which specializes in fermentation technology to create proprietary flora-made dairy protein. Recently it announced a 29 billion won investment in another U.S. alternative protein developer Nature’s Fynd in a series C funding led by SoftBank’s Vision Fund 2 and joined by global leading investors like Blackstone Strategic Partners and Hillhouse Investment.
SK currently is reviewing investment in U.K. farmed plant protein company Meatless Farm, which offers more than 10 kinds of plant protein products in 22 countries in Europe, North America and Asia.
Global investment in alternative foods are estimated to have expanded to a 20-fold of 2.6 trillion won this year from 130 billion won in 2016, according to U.S. food tech venture capital AgFunder. Customer demand for plant protein and other alternative foods are rapidly growing especially in China, where the related market was formed in 2019.
SK is targeting the developed U.S. and U.K. markets and the burgeoning Asian market with aggressive investment in promising food tech firms and partnership with major food producers and investors.
SK shares closed 1.63 percent lower at 271,000 won in Seoul trading on Monday.
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