The largest producer of fresh vegetables in the country, Vegpro, has just been sold to an American fund, which will keep the head office employing 40 people, including its six managers, in Sherrington.
• Read also: They cultivate the garden of Quebec
“The head office is in Sherrington and will remain in Sherrington”, assured in an interview with the Log Anthony Fantin, CEO of Vegpro, whose sales exceed $270 million.
“It’s a financial partner, it’s not a business operator,” he explained, speaking of the American fund Vision Ridge Partners, which became majority shareholder after the retirement of Gerry Van Winden.
Not an operator
Based in Boulder, Colo., the $2.5 billion sustainability fund Vision Ridge Partners did not respond to our interview requests. Vegpro did not want to reveal the amount of the transaction.
Last year, Le Journal told the story of Gerry Van Winden, who arrived here from the Netherlands with a handful of dollars and who managed to transform cheap land at the time into a veritable lettuce empire. .
Today, a page of history is turning for the Jardins-de-Napierville county business, a symbol of the region’s flourishing success.
Discontent in the industry
Behind the scenes, major Quebec players in the industry demonstrated yesterday at the Log their dissatisfaction with seeing Americans in the business.
“After the acquisition of Laiterie Chalifoux by the French, we saw the market gardening sector pass into the hands of the Americans. Is this really what we want as a food model? asked one of them, requesting anonymity for fear of being targeted by his fellow men.
While the Legault government is driving home food self-sufficiency, its Minister of Agriculture, André Lamontagne, answered questions from the Log by becoming a philosopher.
“Of course we prefer when the property remains in Quebec, but the economic activity will remain in Quebec,” he said.
Quebec buyer on the ranks
At the Quebec Food Processing Council (CTAQ), its CEO, Sylvie Cloutier, agreed.
“I spoke to Mr. Van Winden, who confirmed to us that the operations were going to stay here,” she said.
During an interview with Le Journal, the new CEO of Vegpro, Anthony Fantin, specified that about fifty buyers showed interest.
“Among the four finalists, there were two Canadians, one of whom was from Quebec,” he explained.
“The Fonds de solidarité FTQ was involved with one of these groups,” he breathed, refusing to say whether the Caisse de dépôt was part of the lot or not.
VEGPRO IN BRIEF
- Foundation: 1998
- Headquarters: Sherrington
- Employees: 1000
- Vegetables: baby lettuces, onions, carrots and shallots
- Brand: Fresh Attitude
- Quebec (2): one packing lettuce and one packing onions and carrots.
- British Columbia
►Founded by Reuben Munger, Vision Ridge has offices in Colorado and New York and has invested in solar power and transportation electrification.