During the nine months ended May 31, 2010, $340,032, or 3.9%, of NTIC's consolidated net sales were derived from sales of Natur-Tec® products. Net sales of Natur-Tec® products increased 1077.3% and decreased 31.9% during the three and nine months ended May 31, 2010 compared to the three and nine months ended May 31, 2009, respectively. The increase in the three-month comparison was primarily due to the addition of new Natur-Tec® distributors on the West Coast of the United States and the decrease in the nine-month comparison was due to several large stocking orders of Natur-Tec® products that occurred early in 2009 that were not repeat orders. NTIC is continuing to fortify and expand its West Coast Natur-Tec® distribution network in California, while expanding its industrial distribution reach to geographical environmentally focused hotspots such as Oregon, Washington, Minnesota and New England. Additionally, NTIC is targeting key national and regional retailers utilizing independent sales agents.
NTIC recognized a 24.7% increase in fee income for technical and support services provided to joint ventures during the nine months ended May 31, 2010. NTIC's equity in income of joint ventures increased 346.9% to $2,909,120 during the nine months ended May 31, 2010 compared to $650,900 during the nine months ended May 31, 2009. Both of these increases were primarily a result of a 33.6% increase in total net sales of NTIC's joint ventures during the nine months ended May 31, 2010 compared to the same prior year period. The increase in total net sales of NTIC's joint ventures was primarily a result of the economic recovery of the international manufacturing sector that the NTIC joint venture network serves.
NTIC's total operating expenses increased 38.0% during the three months ended May 31, 2010 compared to the three months ended May 31, 2009 primarily as a result of increased sales efforts in both the ZERUST® and the Natur-Tec® markets and increased general and administrative costs due to increased employee count to pre-recession levels.