TORONTO — Wellness Natural Inc., parent company of the SimplyProtein brand, has raised $8.5 million in Series B funding to fuel its expansion in North America. The company also plans to scale its online business, increase investments in marketing and launch new products.

SimplyProtein offers a range of gluten-free, reduced-sugar snack bars, energy bites and more formulated with plant-based protein. Products are available online and in select retailers throughout the United States and Canada.

Over the past year, the company has expanded its leadership team. Steve Shaffer joined as chief customer officer, and Bethany Pfohl assumed the role of vice president of marketing. Both are seasoned veterans with previous experience at leading natural and specialty food brands, according to the company.

“Plant-based protein continues to skyrocket in popularity with consumers,” said Michael Lines, founder and chief executive officer of Wellness Natural Inc. “For the SimplyProtein team, both our short-term and long-term goal is using our scale and straightforward approach to healthy snacking to reach communities and individuals who are often overlooked by the health and wellness CPG industry. We have some ambitious growth goals, and the first step to achieving them is continuing to build a solid distribution foundation, allowing SimplyProtein products to be easily accessible across North America.”

SimplyProtein debuted in 2002 in health food stores throughout Toronto. Wellness Natural Inc. acquired the brand from Simply Good Foods USA, Inc. in 2020. Prior to launching Wellness Natural, Mr. Lines was vice president and general manager of SimplyProtein and Atkins at Simply Good Foods. The brand has steadily expanded since entering the United States four years ago and already is benefiting from being a standalone company, he said. The company said its US sales grew 42% in 2020, even as the overall nutritional bar category declined.