It’s not been the best year for sustainable food and agriculture investments.
Funding into the sector in Europe is down 54% compared to 2022, according to Dealroom, with just over three months of the year left to catch up. Globally, leading food techs like plant-based meat company Beyond Meat have seen their share prices tank.
Not everyone thinks the outlook is that gloomy. Astanor Ventures, a Belgium-based VC firm, has just closed a new €360m fund to invest in the continent’s food and agritech startups. The fund is Astanor’s second — after a $325m fund launched in 2020.
The firm was founded in 2017 by Eric Archambeau and George Coelho, who both launched VC firm Balderton Capital in Europe and were early investors in Spotify.
Astanor says that 50% of the second fund comes from returning investors from the first fund — though the firm didn’t confirm how many LPs from the first fund reinvested. The LPs are a mixture of European sovereign wealth funds, family offices, American and European institutional funds and corporates.
“The decisions are slower due to the market situation but we managed to raise more than expected,” Archambeau tells Sifted via email.
The fund’s focus
The new fund will back companies at seed to Series B stage, writing an average cheque of €12m.
Astanor invests globally. Its existing portfolio includes agritech companies like French regenerative agriculture startup MiiMOSA and Dutch greenhouse tech company Source.ag. It has also invested in foodtech companies like Berlin’s BettaFish, which is developing a plant-based tuna alternative, and French dairy fermentation startup Standing Ovation.
Archambeau names Belgian startup Aphea.Bio, which recently raised a €70m Series C round, and France’s Calyxia, which just raised a €15m Series A, as particular successes from the first fund.
Not every bet has worked out. Astanor was also a relatively early backer of flagship European agritech Infarm, joining its $100m Series B round in 2019. But earlier this year, the startup quit the continent entirely.
Archambeau says the thesis for the second fund remains the same.
“We invest in teams and technologies we believe in,” he says. “The market changes and some companies are not performing as expected, but being a capital risk fund, this is something we are prepared for; 2% of our investments can represent 90% of the returns.”