Vegetable giant Vegpro comes under American control

Quebec’s largest vegetable production company, Vegpro International, comes under the control of American capital following the departure of its founding president and majority shareholder, Gerry Van Winden.

Posted at 6:00 am

Martin Vallieres

Martin Vallieres
The press

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

For its part, Vegpro specializes in growing and packaging ready-to-eat baby lettuce, spinach and fresh lettuce, which is sold under the Attitude brand at most grocers in eastern and western Canada and states on the American east coast, as far north as Florida. Vegpro is also a major producer of carrots and onions for the eastern Canadian and northeastern United States markets.

Photo Olivier Jean, DIE PRESSE

Anthony Fantin, new President of Vegpro International, and Gerry Van Winden, outgoing President

Since its founding in 1998, Vegpro has grown from the vegetable farms of the Van Winden family and their neighbors in southern Quebec to a C$270 million company in Canada and the United States. It employs nearly a thousand people across its network of vegetable growing areas and its four packaging plants in Quebec, Florida and British Columbia.

Among four candidates

This change in Vegpro’s majority shareholder was announced at the end of Wednesday to employees at the headquarters and main plant in Sherrington, in the heart of Quebec’s main vegetable region, near the American border.

Later in conversation with The pressVegpro co-founder and outgoing President Gerry Van Winden stated that this transaction with Vision Ridge recently closed after a year of discussions between “four potential candidates”.

Among those candidates is one from Quebec, one from Canada and two from America, he said.

Vision Ridge’s offer stood out for its financial value, but also for the good alignment of our business vision for Vegpro, given that Vision Ridge is already invested in the horticultural sector in the United States.

Gerry Van Winden, former President of Vegpro International

The amount of the transaction for the sale of the majority block of Vegpro between Mr. Van Winden and Vision Ridge is not disclosed as it was conducted privately with support from the National Bank.

However, Gerry Van Winden states that ownership of agricultural land cultivated in Quebec, British Columbia and Florida came from Vegpro’s business assets and hence from the ultimate value of the transaction of its majority stake.

“Vegpro will continue to be the exclusive operator of these lands, but as a grower-tenant. Ownership of these lands – a sensitive issue in the farming community – will therefore remain in local hands,” stressed Mr Van Winden.

Photo Alain Roberge, LA PRESSE archive

Vegpro International workers

new president

His successor as President of Vegpro, Anthony Fantin, a co-founder of the company who remains a minority shareholder, believes that Vision Ridge comes to Vegpro with “similar values” which will promote good continuity of the company’s ongoing operations and development projects. ‘Company.

Among other things, Mr. Fantin hinted in an interview with The press, we expect to restart the greenhouse expansion project started last year. This project, estimated at more than $50 million over four or five years, was put on hold while researching and negotiating with potential buyers of Mr. Van Winden’s majority stake.

Additionally, Anthony Fantin believes the arrival of a new majority shareholder in Vegpro with “good financial standing” could fuel its expansion ambitions in the Ontario and western Canada markets.

Ambitions that could be realized through own investments or by taking over existing vegetable farms.

At Vision Ridge, one of the investment firm’s partners and co-founders, Justin Goerke, states in a press release The press “We are delighted to be working with Vegpro, recognized as one of North America’s leading manufacturers of pre-washed packaged salads, with a long history of operational excellence and a culture built on responsibility, integrity and collaboration.”

Justin Goerke 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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