The Canadian apple-based food and drink producer Sun-Rype Products said yesterday that it has received approval from the Toronto Stock Exchange to bid to purchase up to 5% of its issued and outstanding common shares over the next twelve months.

The purchase may commence on 24 March, 2004 and will terminate on 23 March, 2005.

The company said it will cancel the repurchased shares. During the twelve months ended 4 March, 2004, Sun-Rype purchased a total of 30,900 common shares at an average price of C$6.89 per share under the previous normal course issuer bid.

"We believe that Sun-Rype shares are available, from time to time, at prices that make them an attractive investment for Sun-Rype and is an appropriate use of company funds", said Robert McGowan, chief financial officer. "These purchases benefit shareholders that continue to hold our common shares by increasing their equity interest in Sun-Rype in addition to offsetting the dilutive effect caused by the issue of common shares under the company's share option plan."