Increased distribution enabled MamaMancini’s to book higher first-quarter sales but a step up in the group’s R&D investment weighed on the bottom line.

The fledgling natural food group said sales in the three months to the end of April increased to US$2.6m, a 46% jump compared to $1.8m in the prior-year period.

MamaMancini’s products were carried on approximately 26,000 shelves in supermarkets and club stores throughout North America as of 30 April, compared to 16,000 shelves last year. The company launched seven products available for national distribution during the quarter, MamaMancini’s added.

Increased scale enabled MamaMancini’s to improve its gross margin, which was up 300 basis points to 31%. Gross profit increased to $802,924, up from $490,062.

However, a higher R&D spend weighed on profitability. The group racked up an operating loss of $684,255 compared to $609,138 last year. Higher interest expenses also hit net profitability, with losses deepening to $700,889 compared to $611,388 last year.

The company said it hopes to generate “breakeven” results as it approaches the end of the fiscal year, which runs to 31 January 2015.