Avrio Ventures Invests in Manitoba Harvest Hemp Foods & Oils to Support its Rapid Growth

Manitoba Harvest Hemp Foods & Oils today announced that it has closed a Series A round with Avrio Ventures. One of the fastest growing private companies in Canada, Manitoba Harvest (www.manitobaharvest.com) will use the funding from Avrio to help fuel their rapid growth in current and new channels of distribution, and to invest in the science-based research, development and introduction of new products.

Hemp foods and functional foods containing hemp-derived nutraceuticals are among the hottest categories in the natural products industry. According to research by the natural products market information company SPINS, from 2007 to 2008 sales of hempmilk grew 162%, shelled hemp seed rose 44% and hemp protein powders increased 21%. Foods such as hemp that provide Omega-3 Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) are hot because medical evidence demonstrating their health benefits continues to grow. Health-savvy consumers are also finding that in addition to being a nutritional powerhouse, hemp foods have a great flavor and gourmet appeal.

Nutrition experts tout hemp due to its balanced concentration of Omega-3 and Omega-6 Essential Fatty Acids, strong digestible protein profile, plentiful fiber, and abundance of vitamins and minerals. Hemp foods are the richest vegetable source of Omega 3 & 6. Hemp also contains all of the essential amino acids and has an overall protein content that is comparable to soy beans and higher than that found in nuts, other seeds, meats, dairy products, fish and poultry. Hemp foods offer potential benefits associated with the prevention or attenuation of many of the leading health conditions that challenge people in North America including diabetes, cancer, lupus, asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, hormone imbalance, depression and hypertension. The role of essential fatty acids in human growth and development, as well as their role in diseases like coronary heart disease, are hot research areas.

“We are extremely pleased that Avrio Ventures has chosen to invest in Manitoba Harvest,” says Mike Fata, President and co-founder of Manitoba Harvest. “Their understanding of vertically integrated food technology companies, and knowledge of the unique regulatory requirements in the nutraceutical and functional food industries will help our company capitalize on current and future opportunities in the marketplace,” adds Fata.

“Manitoba Harvest has a proven track record of innovation and leadership in the development and bringing to market of the highest quality hemp-based nutraceuticals and functional food products,” says Jim Taylor, Managing Partner of Avrio Ventures. “The company is well positioned to extend its leadership in the natural functional foods and nutraceutical industries and our action today further validates the growth and innovation opportunities available in the sector,” adds Taylor.

Southworth & Associates advised and assisted the Manitoba Harvest management team and its Board of Directors on the transaction.

About Manitoba Harvest Hemp Foods & Oils
Founded in 1998, Manitoba Harvest Hemp Foods & Oils is the largest vertically integrated hemp food manufacturer in the world. Manitoba Harvest produces cold pressed Hemp Seed Oil, Shelled Hemp Seed, Hemp Seed Butter and a line of Hemp Protein Powders at their new, certified organic state-of-the-art facility. They also produce Hemp Bliss® - the award-winning and first-ever line of non dairy organic hempmilks. In addition to their own popular brand of hemp foods, Manitoba Harvest supplies many other leading consumer brands with hemp nutraceutical and functional food ingredients. www.manitobaharvest.com.

About Avrio Ventures Management Corporation
Avrio Ventures is a venture capital firm that supports the development of Canadian commercialization and growth stage industrial bio-products, nutraceutical ingredients and food technology companies into world-class organizations. www.avrioventures.com

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