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A novel approach to optimizing a global farmland portfolio

Skye Macpherson
Head of Portfolio Management, Nuveen Natural Capital
Gwen Busby
Head of Research and Strategy, Nuveen Natural Capital
Farmland on a hill near a lake

Nuveen Natural Capital believes that a globally diversified portfolio is the best way to invest in farmland assets. By diversifying the crop mix and geographies, investors can protect against external physical and market risk factors such as weather, crop price volatility and government intervention and regulation. But this leads to a question: what is the optimal way to construct a globally diversified farmland portfolio?

In this paper, we examine Nuveen Natural Capital’s approach to portfolio construction, outlining how we apply risk and optimization modeling to build risk-return efficient portfolios of farmland investments. We also demonstrate how an investor’s approach to currency risk has a material impact on regional allocations. Finally, we demonstrate that there are material allocation differences in optimal portfolios depending on whether an investor’s investment objective is to maximize cash yield, total return or both.

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A word on risk
As an asset class, agricultural investments are less developed, more illiquid, and less transparent compared to traditional asset classes. Agricultural investments will be subject to risks generally associated with the ownership of real estate-related assets, including changes in economic conditions, environmental risks, the cost of and ability to obtain insurance, and risks related to leasing of properties.

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