United Natural Foods this week announced it will buy the Canadian food distribution assets of SunOpta Inc. for $66.2 million.

"We are very excited to be joining with UNFI given its broad product array and outstanding commitment to customer support," said Roger Eacock, President of SunOpta Inc. in a release. "This transaction offers us additional resources to expand our product offerings and serve more customers with greater efficiencies, utilizing items such as UNFI's substantial purchasing power and sophisticated inter-regional logistics system."

Natural retail expert, Bill Crawford, director of retail publishing programs for New Hope Natural Media said the move seems strategic considering competitor KeHE Food Distributors February acquisition of Tree of Life—which also has distribution in Canada. “Via acquisitions and expansions, they (UNFI and KeHE) have been working to keep up with and stay a step ahead of each other for years. They both have products and services that mirror what the other is doing. Somewhat similar to the KeHE acquisition, UNFI now has a presence in both the U.S. and Canada creating another marketplace for these two to go toe-to-toe,” he said.

SunOpta Inc. is Canada’s largest distributor of organic, kosher and specialty foods and serves approximately 6,000 customer locations, 15,000 SKU’s and 5 distribution centers, according to information released by the company.

"This acquisition is the latest step in our strategy to grow our Specialty Foods and Organic business," said Steve Spinner, UNFI's President and Chief Executive Officer in a release. "We are excited about entering the dynamic Canadian market and feel terrific about welcoming SunOpta Inc. to our organization. Both companies have a rich history of commitment to sustainability, integrity and philanthropy."

The acquisition is expected to close by early next month.