Corporate real estate brokerage has been slow to specialize. The industry delineates across broad asset classes, like industrial, retail, office, and flex, but that’s as far as it goes. Contrast this to law, business consultancy, and strategic M&A, where dedicated specialties exist to serve nuanced sectors, from food and pharma to aerospace and energy. Global Food Properties believes who you choose matters more today than ever before, as margin compression and food-safety continue to disrupt occupancy in unexpected ways.
Specializing in the single asset category of food production allows for the focused management of massive amounts of data within one narrow sector. Property availability, lease comps, sales transactions, cap rates, and time-on-market can be tracked across continents and globally, as the volume of data is opaque, but manageable.
Moreover, focusing strictly on food production facilities, there is a synergy between every property we touch, track, tour, and transact worldwide, meaning everything we do informs everything else we do. This is in stark contrast to generalist brokers, who touch everything from vacant lots and flex buildings, to warehouses and freight terminals. Just as we have little standing to comment on Tier 1 absorption rates, so, too, do generalist brokers lack insight in the valuation and use nuances of production infrastructure, refrigeration, process steam, bulk ingredient storage, effluent pre-treatment, and third-party audit conformity.
Speed is the obvious benefit of managing a wide view of a narrow sector. Speed to plant inspections and valuation guidance, supported by comps and data delivery in real time, resulting in timely decision-making and speed-to-market. In a sector increasingly marked by fulfillment contracts won and lost, and the necessity of being in production faster than ever before, speed to the necessary result is perhaps the most palpable benefit of industry specialization.
Global Food Properties has over 20,000 prospects within its proprietary database. Hence, with modern technology and social media, we have made a market before we begin; no research, no hurried buying of public lists, no broker emailing to create a market.
Furthermore, tracking hundreds of properties and prospects, we have a rare view, in real time, of who’s looking, what’s trending (for example, the recent boom in pet food manufacturing), and what asset classes are in highest demand (frozen production). All of which, in turn, inform pricing and time-on-market expectations for our clients.
Focusing on the single asset class allows for a depth of property and sector intelligence no generalist can match. Any veteran industrial broker has sold a random food plant or warehouse, but few, if any, have sold over 200 on four continents. The difference? A keen awareness of the role of machinery and equipment, and how to evaluate the “sum of the pieces” versus the “whole;’ or the impacts of food safety in occupancy decisions, and how that roils pricing, time-on-market, and managing board-level expectations; or how size, expandability, construction type, and configuration drive price and compress time-on-market.
Denouement: Who You Choose Matters
In sum, few industries are moving more quickly and unpredictably than food manufacturing. Global corporate occupiers too often assume a broker is broker; that brokers are commodities, all equally equipped. But just as the manufacturers themselves have proprietary recipes and market data, so too, do specialty brokers, who understand how food safety is changing the property matrix, disrupting everything from plant valuations (and by extension, valuations for tax purposes), to book-versus market values for surplus assets, to what qualifies as safe and credible options for the next expansion or relocation. It’s no longer just about the brick and mortar; the issue now is far more complicated for a fast moving consumer company in a highly regulated environment.