Bee Vectoring Technologies Contracts with Three New Growers to Kick-Start US West Coast Expansion
Mississauga, ON Canada and Sacramento, CA USA (March 11, 2020) – Bee Vectoring Technologies International Inc. (the “Company” or “BVT”) (TSXV: BEE) (OTCQB: BEVVF) (CVE:BEE) today announced that it has closed three new grower deals with berry producers in Oregon and Washington states. These new customers will use BVT’s proprietary bee delivery system, VECTORITE™ with CR-7, on portions of their blueberry and raspberry crops in the upcoming growing season. The landmark deals extend the Company’s commercial reach into the US west coast, building on the strong momentum it has seen with southeast-based growers.
“We are excited to be expanding into this new region,” says Ashish Malik, CEO of Bee Vectoring Technologies. “These initial grower commitments align with our growth strategy starting with initial market penetration, moving to customer retention and expansion. We’ve now successfully penetrated the US Southeast blueberry market, the Pacific Northwest blueberry and raspberry markets, and the Florida strawberry market and anticipate this strong commercial momentum continuing in coming seasons.”
Above: A Washington state commercial blueberry field that has trialed BVT’s natural precision agriculture system.
The new deals also mark another important breakthrough: the first commercial use of BVT’s recently announced patent-pending computer-controlled honeybee hive dispenser system. In the western US, only honeybees are currently used for commercial pollination since bumble bees are currently not allowed in western USA and Canada. The honeybee hive dispenser thus matches specific market demands and allows BVT to address 100% of the US market. The newly contracted growers produce blueberries, raspberries and blackberries across the western US region.
The Company’s system is in the market at the right time. There is a significant need for alternative plant protection products for berry crops as there is increasing evidence that the efficacy of traditional fungicides is declining. Data presented at the 2019 Washington Blueberry Show from Washington State University documented resistance even with newer classes of fungicide chemistry throughout the production areas tested.(1) Similar data was presented by Michigan State University.
BVT’s natural precision agriculture system uses commercially-reared bees to carry its organic and natural plant protection product, VECTORITE™ with CR-7, directly to blooms throughout the day and continuously for the full bloom period. Traditional spraying is done periodically and disease pressure can build in between spraying applications. CR-7 provides a new class of all-natural fungicide as an additional tool to be applied throughout the bloom period to enhance disease management and enhance high-yield production. BVT’s CR-7 also has Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI) approval for organic production and is exempt from residue tolerance testing, making it an ideal tool for both conventional and organic berry growers.
The Pacific Northwest growers are first-time users of the BVT system and will pilot BVT on a percentage (60 to 80 acres out of a combined 1,800 acres) of their conventional and organic crops. Based on common practice, there is an expectation that they will add BVT across their entire operations in the coming two to three seasons based on positive results. The next blueberry season in Oregon and Washington starts with the blooming period in April 2020, when the BVT system is used, continuing until spring/summer harvest. BVT is actively pursuing further grower contracts in the lead up to this season commencing.
“Historically, growers start by using BVT on 10-20% of their acreage, and gradually progress to 100%,” says Mr. Malik. “Our strategy is to choose influential growers, because their pilot seasons are highly visible to other producers. So in addition to the initial 60 to 80 acres that can expand to 1,800 acres in future seasons, other growers will take notice and adopt the BVT system in the future, which will increase our market share through new customer acquisition as well as boosting BVT’s share of wallet with its initial growers.”
“The blueberry market in the US is significant, representing about one third of global production at 270,000(2) acres. The Pacific Northwest and Southeastern regions together have a combined 60,000(3) acres of cultivated highbush blueberries, representing two-thirds of the 90,000(4) acre US market,” said Mr. Malik. “For BVT, this represents a major new market for the upcoming growing season and a large growth opportunity in future growing seasons. There is high market demand for Pacific Northwest berries domestically and overseas, with a large export market to Asia in both fresh pack and frozen berries.”
Many west coast blueberry growers have also expanded into raspberries and blackberries, and there is the potential for them to use BVT’s system on those crops as well. Within the US, Oregon is the biggest producer of blackberries with 6,500(5) acres, and Washington is the biggest producer of raspberries with 9,500(6) acres.
The Company also announces that it intends to seek TSX Venture Exchange (“Exchange”) approval to extend the expiry date of an aggregate of 12,000,000 warrants previously issued on March 28, 2018 and exercisable at $0.35 per share by one year.
The particulars of the proposed extension to the terms of the warrants are as follows:
12,000,000 warrants issued on March 28, 2018 with an exercise price of $0.35 per share, which are due to expire on March 28, 2020, will be extended to March 28, 2021.
The warrant term expiry date extension is subject to Exchange approval.
(1) Source: APS Publications, https://apsjournals.apsnet.org/doi/full/10.1094/PDIS-02-16-0229-RE
(2) Source: FAO, United Nations, 2017 Statistics
(3)(4) (5)(6) Source: USDA, 2018 Agricultural Statistics Annual
BVT, an agriculture technology company, is a market disruptor with a significant global market opportunity in the $240 billion crop protection and fertilizer market. BVT has pioneered a natural precision agriculture system that replaces chemical pesticides and wasteful plant protection product spray applications by delivering biological pesticide alternatives to crops using commercially grown bees. BVT’s award-winning technology, precision vectoring, is completely harmless to bees and allows minute amounts of naturally-derived pesticides (called biologicals) to be delivered directly to blooms, providing improved crop protection and yield results than traditional chemical pesticides – and improving the health of the soil, the microbiome and the environment. Currently, BVT has over 65 granted patents, over 35 patents pending in all major agricultural countries worldwide, and has US EPA registration of its VECTORITE™ with CR-7 (EPA Registration No. 90641-2) for sale as a registered biological fungicide for use on the labeled crops.
Ashish Malik, President & CEO
Babak Pedram, Investor Relations
Virtus Advisory Group
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Certain statements contained in this press release constitute “forward-looking information” as such term is defined in applicable Canadian securities legislation. The words “may”, “would”, “could”, “should”, “potential”, “will”, “seek”, “intend”, “plan”, “anticipate”, “believe”, “estimate”, “expect” and similar expressions as they relate to the Company, “annual revenue potential”, are intended to identify forward-looking information. All statements other than statements of historical fact may be forward-looking information. Such statements reflect the Company’s current views and intentions with respect to future events, and current information available to the Company, and are subject to certain risks, uncertainties and assumptions, including: planted acres of strawberries in Florida, selling price of competitive chemical pesticides and the US to Canadian dollar exchange rate. Material factors or assumptions were applied in providing forward-looking information. Many factors could cause the actual results, performance or achievements that may be expressed or implied by such forward-looking information to vary from those described herein should one or more of these risks or uncertainties materialize. These factors include changes in law, competition, litigation, the ability to implement business strategies and pursue business opportunities, state of the capital markets, the availability of funds and resources to pursue operations, new technologies, the ability to protect intellectual property rights, the ability to obtain patent protection for products, third-party intellectual property infringement claims, regulatory changes affecting products, failing research and development activities, the ability to reach and sustain profitability, dependence on business and technical experts, the ability to effectively manage business operations and growth, issuance of debt, dilution of existing securities, volatility of publicly traded securities, potential conflicts of interest, unlikelihood of dividend payments, the potential costs stemming from defending third-party intellectual property infringement claims, the ability to secure relationships with manufacturers and purchasers, as well as general economic, market and business conditions, as well as those risk factors discussed or referred to in the Company’s Filing Statement dated May 29, 2015, filed with the securities regulatory authorities in certain provinces of Canada and available at www.sedar.com. Should any factor affect the Company in an unexpected manner, or should assumptions underlying the forward-looking information prove incorrect, the actual results or events may differ materially from the results or events predicted. Any such forward-looking information is expressly qualified in its entirety by this cautionary statement. Moreover, the Company does not assume responsibility for the accuracy or completeness of such forward-looking information. The forward-looking information included in this press release is made as of the date of this press release and the Company undertakes no obligation to publicly update or revise any forward-looking information, other than as required by applicable law. All figures are in Canadian dollars.