French dairy giant Danone has increased its stake in local biscuits-to-beverages maker Michel et Augustin via its venture capital fund.

Danone made reference to taking the “majority” stake in its first-quarter earnings statement yesterday (17 April) showing sales edged up 0.8% on a like-for-like basis to EUR6.08bn (US$6.8bn).

Michel et Augustin was the first acquisition made by New York-based Danone Manifesto Ventures in 2016, when the investment fund took a 40% holding in the French business, which manufactures biscuits, dairy products, fresh desserts and beverages, including yogurt drinks. 

The stake was increased on 1 April, according to Danone’s earnings statement, although it did not provide the end percentage holding. However, media reports suggest the stake Danone Manifesto Ventures now holds is 95%. just-food has contacted Danone to confirm the size of the holding.

Late last year, the venture fund took part in an investment round for the France-based fruit and vegetable business Agricool and also US meal delivery start-up Yumble.

The division has so far backed 11 firms, which also include US vending-machine business Farmer’s Fridge and Drums Food International, the India-based Greek-style yogurt supplier.

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In October, Danone said at an investor presentation in London it wanted to have a “portfolio of 20-25 start-ups” within Danone Manifesto Ventures by 2020.

Speaking to just-food in March, Laurent Marcel, the managing director of Danone Manifesto Ventures, was coy about whether the 20 to 25 target was still live. “The number of investments is something we continue to fix to ourselves as a compass or an indication of the type of activity we want to achieve,” he said. “Beyond the number of investments, what we really are after is bringing value both to the entrepreneurs and to Danone as a group.”

In Danone’s first-quarter sales update yesterday, the Activia maker stated its objectives for 2019, including targeting like-for-like sales growth of around 3%.

“Danone will continue to progress towards its 2020 objectives by strengthening its operating model through its priorities: accelerate growth, maximise efficiencies and allocate capital with discipline,” it said.