Take the humble tomato. Outside, you might grow 3-8 kilos per square metre a year. In a BOAL high-tech greenhouse, you can expect 80-100 kilos per year. And with much less resource intensity. In other words, there is a very rational and tangible commercial basis behind each sale, centred on improved yield. Today, the company has turned over 8,000 hectares of land into contained, fertile worlds, across 50 countries, from the deserts of North Africa to the windswept Canadian prairies. It also recently signed a co-operation agreement that will allow it to expand its presence in the Chinese market.
In choosing to invest, Equistone carefully assessed the core business – and liked what it saw. “But on top of that,” says Moritz, “we were convinced this is something that needs to grow at a good pace, because it addresses such a fundamental need.”
A mandate to ‘feed the world’ would probably satisfy most investors, but under Equistone’s ownership, BOAL’s ambition has not stopped there. The next step has been the implementation of a ‘solid ESG strategy’. For Moritz, it’s not enough that they have a great product that is positive for the world. “It’s also important to look at everything from an E, S and G perspective, from the running of operations to the training of employees, health and safety, corporate governance, so everything is as good as it can be. And that’s what they have done.”
Measures have been as varied as increasing its use of recycled aluminium and adopting measures to avoid acting politically in the regions it operates.
As a result of these efforts, in April 2022 Sustainalytics ranked BOAL’s ESG risk as the best in its category, and the top 1% of all companies. Most recently, the company receive the Global Top 50 Rated Badge for 2023, placing them at #47 out of the 15,613 companies rated worldwide.
And this is the important part. None of Equistone’s other investments are going to have precisely the same ‘impact’ as BOAL – their missions will obviously be different. But any investment can look to its own house and put it in order.
As Roman puts it: “BOAL is just an extraordinarily good example because, on top of its ESG initiatives, it is – in its DNA – a very impactful investment too.” ☐