Vegetable giant Vegpro falls under US control

Vegpro International, Quebec’s largest vegetable producer, has come under the control of US capital after the retirement of its founding chairman and majority shareholder, Jerry Van Wenden.

Posted at 6:00 AM

Martin Valeris

Martin Valeris

The new controlling shareholder in Vegpro is investment firm Vision Ridge Partners, based in Boulder, Colorado. This company manages a portfolio of $2.5 billion in investments in so-called “sustainable” assets in the energy, transportation and agri-food sectors.

For its part, Vegpro specializes in growing and packaging fresh, ready-to-eat lettuce, spinach, and salads sold under the Attitude brand at most food distributors in eastern and western Canada as well as the East Coast states. , even Florida. Vegpro is also a major producer of carrots and onions for markets in eastern Canada and the northeastern United States.

Photo Olivier Jean, press

Anthony Fanten, the incoming president of Vegpro International, and Gerry Van Winden, the outgoing president

Founded in 1998, from the vegetable farms of the Van Winden family and their neighbors in southern Quebec, Vegpro has grown into a company with sales of 270 million Canadians in Canada and the United States. It employs nearly a thousand people in its network of four vegetable farms and packaging plants located in Quebec, Florida and British Columbia.

Out of four candidates

The change in Vegpro’s controlling shareholder was announced at the end of Wednesday to employees of the head office and main plant located in Sherrington, in the heart of Quebec’s major vegetable region, near the US border.

In a conversation later with JournalismJerry van Wenden, co-founder and outgoing president of Vegpro, noted that this deal with Vision Ridge was recently sealed after a year of discussions among “four potential candidates”.

He pointed out that among these candidates, one of them is of Quebec, the other of Canadian origin, and two of American origin.

The Vision Ridge offering stood out for its financial value, but also for the good alignment of our business visions for Vegpro, especially since Vision Ridge is already investing in the US horticultural market.

Jerry Van Wenden, Former President of Vegpro International

The amount of the deal for the bulk sale of Vegpro between Mr Van Winden and Vision Ridge was not disclosed, as it was carried out privately with the help of the National Bank.

However, Gerry Van Winden specifies that ownership of farmland farms in Quebec, British Columbia and Florida is extracted from Vegpro’s business assets, and thus from the ultimate value of its majority-equity group transaction.

“Vegpro will continue to be the exclusive operator of these lands, but as producer and tenant. Thus, ownership of these lands – a sensitive topic in the farming community – will remain in the hands of the local population,” emphasized Mr. Van Wenden.

Alain Roberge photos, LA PRESSE archives

International Vegpro Workers

new boss

Son successeur à la présidence de Vegpro, Anthony Fantin, un cofondateur de l’entreprise qui demeure actionnaire minoritaire, considère que Vision Ridge arrive chez Vegpro avec des « valeurs semblables » qui favoriseront la bonne continué des protjes de affetes de velédés ‘a company.

Among other things, Mr. Fantine pointed out in an interview with JournalismWe expect to relaunch the greenhouse expansion project that started last year. This project, estimated at more than 50 million over four or five years, has been put on hold during a period of research and negotiation with potential buyers of Mr. Van Wenden’s majority block of shares.

In addition, Anthony Fantine believes that the arrival of Vegpro’s new controlling shareholder with “good financial means” could bolster its expansion ambitions in the Ontario and Western Canadian markets.

Ambitions that can be achieved through internal investments or through the acquisition of existing horticultural companies in the market.

At Vision Ridge, one of the investment firm’s co-founders and partners, Justin Goerke, points out in a press release sent to Journalism “We are pleased to partner with Vegpro, recognized as one of the leading producers of prepackaged salads in North America, with a long history of operational performance and a culture based on responsibility, integrity, and collaboration.”

Justin Guerk added that he “looks forward to helping Vegpro build on its decades of success and continue its strategic growth for the benefit of all stakeholders: employees, customers, suppliers, and the communities it serves.”

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