Venture capital firm helps with expansion
By Martin Cash, Winnipeg Free Press
Photo by Mike Deal
Mike Fata says only the global recession has managed to slow the company down.
When daytime talk show stars like Martha Stewart and Dr. Oz start endorsing the health and nutritional benefits of hemp-seed foods, chances are it's only a matter of time before middle America will start queuing up to buy the product.
And that's exactly what's been happening with products like hemp-seed oil, hemp milk, hemp-seed butter, shelled hemp seed and hemp protein and fibre powder.
What that means for Manitoba Harvest Hemp Foods & Oils, the largest vertically integrated hemp food manufacturer in the world, is it needs more capital to keep pace with that growth.
This week, the Winnipeg company announced Avrio Ventures, a Calgary-based venture capital firm that specializes in industrial bio-products, nutraceutical ingredients and food technology companies, just made another multimillion-dollar investment in its operation. "It is huge news for us," said Mike Fata, Manitoba Harvest's CEO and co-founder.
It's Manitoba Harvest's second placement from Avrio, a $75-million fund that is partially backed by Farm Credit Canada.
Over the last 12 years, the Winnipeg company has quietly become one of the fastest-growing companies in the country, with average annual growth of between 50 and 75 per cent.