Naturally Splendid Enterprises (CVE:NSP) has secured a U.S. distribution agreement for its hemp-based Natera superfood line, with the products to now be distributed by Vancouver-based Sonray Sales, which supplies over 7,000 stores in the U.S.
The deal expands Naturally Splendid's distribution network to almost 20,000 potential retail locations throughout North America, up from over 10,000 previously. The company started the year with a network of just 350 stores in Western Canada, and has worked to sign one distribution agreement after another as it bolsters the presence of Natera in Canada, and now the U.S.
The news comes just days after the company said it would apply to list on the U.S. OTCQB exchange as part of its efforts to expand its shareholder base and brand recognition in the U.S.
The Natera product line was rebranded and relaunched in late 2013 with new flavours, sizes and more customer-focused packaging, and includes natural and flavoured shelled hemp seeds as well as hemp protein powders.
In a statement released Wednesday morning, Naturally Splendid said Sonray has been in the grocery business for over 40 years, representing brands like Bee Maid Honey and Paperchef. The international distributor of products specializes in distribution and brand management, with its products listed at major retailers like Costco (NASDAQ:COST), Target (NYSE:TGT) and Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT).
Sonray also has customers in India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Russia and Switzerland.
"Sonray is a great addition to our NATERA distribution network due to their strong business relationships throughout the US," said co-founder and VP of operations for Naturally Splendid, Bryan Carson, in the release.
"We are extremely pleased to have expanded our growing network south of the border into the US for the first time. This larger network will allow Naturally Splendid to distribute not only its existing NATERA line into the US market, but potential future product lines with substantially increased efficiency."
Indeed, Naturally Splendid last week said it raised close to $1.4 million for equipment and facilities as it builds its own new packaging facility for its Natera line in house, to save on costs and increase efficiency.
Hemp has been popularized due to its power to lower blood cholesterol levels, blood pressure and improve organ function, as well as immunity and energy levels. It offers the most digestible protein of any plant source on earth, and is high in fibre and rich in Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids, which are widely known to improve immune system health and metabolism.
New hemp-based products could certainly boost the company's business, as could its exclusive rights to market Boreal Technology's full range of plant-based Omega products throughout North America.
Shares of Naturally Splendid have advanced 40% since the beginning of this year, closing Tuesday at 28 cents on the TSX Venture Exchange. The stock has a 52-week trading range of 16 cents to 38 cents.