Snacks & Candy

Tanka Bar Signs With Three National Food Distributors

Native American snack foods go nationwide

KYLE, S.D. -- Nearly two years after launching its Tanka Bar buffalo and cranberry snack, Native American Natural Foods is fast approaching a big milestone in its short historycoast-to-coast distribution. The company, based on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in near Kyle, S.D., has announced that it has signed agreements with three major national distributors.

The top two national natural foods distributors, UNFI and Tree of Life, and the leading food service distributor, Sysco, will now be distributing Tanka Bars, Tanka Bites and Tanka Dogs.

"This has been an [image-nocss] unbelievable two years," CEO Karlene Hunter said. "The way natural foods consumers have embraced our products has been wonderful. Now that we have launched our Spicy Pepper Blend of Tanka Bars and Tanka Bites, as well as the Tanka Dogs, we have a large enough line to attract the major natural foods distributors."

Until now, the company has worked with small regional distributors or distributed its products directly to retailers. As a result, Tanka products are for sale in natural foods stores and groceries in 49 states. West Virginia is the only state without a Tanka retailer.

Tanka Bars and Tanka Bites, which are available nationally at more than 3,000 retail locations and at, are a modern artisanal take on a traditional Native American recipe for "wasna" or "pemmican." The all-buffalo Tanka Dogs are available to foodservice establishments, such as restaurants and cafeterias.

Tilsen said Native American Natural Foods is also working with Natural/Specialty Sales, a division of Acosta that specializes in natural, organic, gourmet and ethnic foods, and with National Sustainable Sales, a national account food service agency that focuses on foodservice menus and college campus convenience store sets.

Tilsen said the new distribution relationships are anticipated to add about 200% in sales growth for the company in 2010.

Hunter said that signing the distribution contracts represents an entirely new chapter for the tiny company. "It is thrilling to see our products, which we originally envisioned appealing mostly to the Native American community, being embraced by natural foods consumers across the nation," she said.

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