For nearly 20 years, we, at Vegpro International Inc., have been the leading producer of fresh salad and vegetables in Canada. Specialized in the production, washing and packaging of field-grown mesclun lettuces, we also market a wide range of local vegetables grown on our own farmlands across North America. Our products are available throughout the year under the trusted brand FRESH ATTITUDE.
Our mission is to be recognized as a leader in innovation of agricultural production and packaging of ready to eat fresh salads and vegetables, by bringing a combination of freshness and convenience to North America all year-round.
Our vision is to offer consumers the freshest ready to eat healthy meals made with fresh lettuces, fruits and vegetables grown from trusted local sources.
At Fresh Attitude, we believe that everyone should have access to the benefits only nature can give us. Living with the upmost respect to the land and to our consumers, more than 1000 employees are devoted each day to grow and pack the freshest, healthiest, most innovative and best tasting ready to eat fresh salads.
We remain true to the collaboration and community values that embody our company and have made our reputation for the past 20 years.
Our success as a vertically integrated local vegetable producer would not be possible without the coordination of all our employees and partners skills.
We follow strict quality control procedures throughout our production stages to offer fresh salads and vegetables grown and prepared in a safe and secure environment.
We grow our own fresh salads and vegetables and can guarantee their quality and freshness as we control the process at the source.
HUMILITYYour Content Goes Here
No matter how unpredictable it can be, we depend on nature and remain grateful and humble of the fresh lettuces and vegetables it gives us every season.
AUTONOMYYour Content Goes Here
Most people want to eat natural healthy food but may not have time or skills to prepare such meals. Our products are healthy and easy to prepare so they can be enjoyed by all.
Off the boat from Holland, Pierre and John Van Winden each buy their first land in Sherrington in southern Quebec, a few kilometers away from the United States’ border. Back then, muck soils were rarely exploited in the area because of their lack of drainage. The two brothers, familiar with these dark fertile soils in their native land, seize the opportunity to grow local vegetables. Later joined by another sibling, Arie, the cooperation begins and all three help each other out with farm work by taking turns. With other farmers in the region, they even establish an onion packing cooperative, and later the SAPEC, a carrot packing cooperative to facilitate the marketing of farm-fresh produce.
Gradually taking over from Pierre, John and Arie, their children take part in the company’s activities. As the arrival of larger grocery chains is forging a new dynamic in the food market, the Van Winden decide to specialize in fresh lettuces. To reach markets beyond the province such as the Maritimes, Ontario and the northern portion of the United States, they also acquire the first modern cooling systems in Quebec as well as all the necessary equipment to maintain the cold chain. Gerry Van Winden, Peter’s son, is convinced that the key to success lies in providing vegetables to customers throughout the year and therefore devotes more of his time to marketing.
The new free trade agreement between Canada, Mexico and the United States opens up a new opportunity. Quickly, Gerry Van Winden sets up several partnerships with producers in Mexico and the southern United States. He also partners up with Anthony Fantin and four local vegetable producers to create Vegpro International Inc., a family-owned company with big dreams. Nurturing the goal of becoming a leader in the production and marketing of fresh vegetables in Eastern Canada and the United States, they focus on continuous innovation and develop commercial relations beyond their borders.
To better fulfil the increasing demand of its clients, Vegpro International sets in place a corporative farm: Vert Nature. It is the first farm in Canada to specialize in the culture of baby lettuce leaves, commonly known as mesclun. Almost simultaneously, a first packing plant is built next to the fields in Sherrington to reduce to a minimum the time between harvest and packing. To supply the market in the winter months, farming and packaging operations also start in Belle-Glade Florida. Within two years, both packing plants in Quebec and Florida must double their size and capacity to meet the growing popularity of mesclun and baby spinach.
A fire completely destroys the Quebec plant in 2006 but far from being discouraged, the Vegpro International team pulls together and manages to replenish all its customers through various partnerships in less than 2 weeks. Gerry Van Winden and Anthony Fantin immediately undertake the construction of a new plant and in spring 2007 “Salade Etcetera!” opens in Sherrington. This new plant is equipped with packing lines at the cutting edge of technology, allowing the packing of mesclun in clamshells but also the production of fresh salad kits and ready to eat healthy meals in family and individual format, all marketed under the brand name FRESH ATTITUDE.
With a brand amongst the best of its category and a fast-growing share of fresh salad consumers, Vegpro International expands the Sherrington salad packing plant twice from 2012 to 2016, each time doubling the production surface to now also pack organic mesclun and baby spinach. Plus, they acquire CAMS located in the Sherrington village and renovate completely its carrots and onions packing plant, upgrading the equipment to the latest technology available. More production capacity inevitably means more valuable employees who each day, join the several brothers, cousins and children of Gerry Van Winden to fulfil a dream shared by more than three generations.
Pursuing the desire to provide fresh, local and sustainable salads throughout North America, Vegpro International will start mesclun and baby spinach farming and packing operations in Western Canada in Spring 2018. Presenting optimal conditions to establish Canada’s first and leading organic lettuce growing operation, the Coldstream (BC) location will also grow conventional produce in distinct fields. Replicating the vertically integrated structure that contributed to the Sherrington and Belle-Glade locations’ success, a 70 000 square feet state of the art produce packing facility next to the farm will create additional employment opportunity for local communities.
We are formally committed to make every effort to produce, maintain and preserve the FRESH ATTITUDE mesclun lettuces safe and healthy for consumption through strict quality control procedures that are certified by government and independent agencies. This approach engages and involves all the employees at Vegpro International, from senior management to the frontline employees without exception, throughout all production stages.
IN THE FIELDS
Irrigation water quality
Approved fertilizers and pesticides, used only if necessary and at the smallest dosage possible
Internal and external audits of our farms and the ones of our partners
Raw produce quality
AT THE PACKING PLANT
Washing water quality
Foreign material control
Full sanitation program with approved cleaning chemicals performed on an everyday basis
Internal and external audits of our facilities and of the ones of our suppliers
News & Media
VEGPRO INTERNATIONAL, A LEADER IN THE NORTH AMERICAN FOOD INDUSTRY, WELCOMES A NEW MAJORITY SHAREHOLDER
Vision Ridge Partners, an investor in sustainable real assets with a focus on agriculture investments, partners with Vegpro
Sherrington, June 23, 2022 – Vegpro International, which specialises in the growing and packaging of baby lettuce and is the largest producer of fresh vegetables in Canada, announces that, following a rigorous transaction orchestrated by the National Bank of Canada, its new majority shareholder is Vision Ridge Partners, an investor in sustainable real assets with a focus on agriculture investments.
For Gerry Van Winden, which has owned the company since its founding in 1998, the time had come to pass the torch to new majority shareholders who would not only contribute to the company’s continuity and prosperity, but also continue creating wealth in Quebec and in Canada. It was also imperative that the new owners understood Vegpro’s history, and were fully aligned with the company’s culture, mission and values.
“We received many offers, and our choice came down to Vision Ridge Partners”, stated Gerry Van Winden, owner of the company until the recent change of shareholders. “Vision Ridge has demonstrated a strong interest in ensuring the well-being of our employees and in continuing the strong collaboration we have built with our customers, suppliers, and partners. This firm expressed the greatest confidence in our company and products, as well as our team and business model, all of which it believes have a strong growth potential and a guarantee of success. Ownership of the agricultural land has been excluded from the transaction, so Vegpro remains the sole operator as a producer-tenant. The ownership of the land will therefore remain in local hands.”
This change of majority shareholder will have no impact on the job security and the current excellent working conditions of employees, whether they are based in Quebec, British Columbia or Florida. This change was the result of a lengthy and thoughtful process that took into account many factors, including a smooth transition, as few changes as possible in the organisational structure, VegPro’s continuity, as well as a respect for the agri-food leader’s values and culture, including a continued focus on environmentally friendly practices.
Anthony Fantin, Vegpro COO, will take over as President. Mr. Fantin is an experienced associate of the company and will remain a shareholder. “Vegpro’s headquarters remain in Sherrington, Quebec, where it all began 70 years ago with the Van Winden brothers’ move,” said Mr. Fantin. “As Vegpro grows as a business and enters new markets, it will continue to create jobs and wealth in the communities where it is established.”
Justin Goerke, Co-Founding Partner of Vision Ridge, said, “We are thrilled to partner with Vegpro, well-recognized as one of the leading producers of packaged salads in North America with a longstanding track record of operational performance and a culture underpinned by responsibility, integrity, and collaboration. As an investor focused on working with companies generating strong, positive environmental impact, Vision Ridge is pleased to have a likeminded partner in Vegpro who shares these values. We look forward to helping the company build on its decades-long success and continue to strategically grow for the benefit of all Vegpro stakeholders – employees, customers, suppliers, and the communities it serves.”
About Vegpro and its founder:
Vegpro was founded in 1998. It is the largest producer of fresh vegetables in Canada. It specialises in the growing and packaging of baby lettuce, but it also markets a wide range of vegetables grown on their own land. Thanks to their fields in Quebec, in BC and Florida, they can provide their customers with top quality products all year round.
Gerry Van Winden, president and co-founder is very proud of the Quebec-based flagship he has led for over two decades. Today, thanks to Mr. Van Winden’s leadership, Vegpro International is a major player in the North American food industry. His vision has allowed the company to evolve through all the different stages of growth and expansion both nationally (Western Canada) and internationally (Southeastern United States).
About Vision Ridge Partners:
Vision Ridge Partners is a preeminent investor in sustainable real assets that seeks to deliver superior financial returns while driving a positive environmental impact. Founded by Reuben Munger and joined by partners Justin Goerke and George Polk, Vision Ridge manages approximately $2.5 billion, as of June 30, 2021, across its three funds and associated co-investments. Vision Ridge has offices in Colorado and New York. For more information visit https://vision-ridge.com.
Simon Faucher, coordinator, Zone franche
C +1 514 402-3873
VEGPRO invests 55 million dollars to increase its winter lettuce production capacity in Quebec
The investment will serve to build a four-hectare, carbon neutral greenhouse complex
Sherrington, August 3, 2021 – Vegpro International, which produces Fresh Attitude brand lettuce, sold at over 2,500 retail stores in Canada, today announces a $55 million investment for the construction of its first greenhouse complex, as well as packing lines within the complex, in Sherrington, Montérégie. Covering four hectares (10 acres), this greenhouse complex will allow the company to produce lettuce year-round in Quebec, and therefore remain close to Quebec consumers even during the coldest months. We expect to open the first greenhouse during the winter of 2022, with sales starting soon thereafter. This project will enable the production of over 100,000 pounds (45,000 kg) of lettuce per week.
“With this investment, Vegpro will reduce its environmental footprint on different levels: less transportation of lettuce from our winter production site in Florida for products destined for Eastern Canada, a reduced use of water and fossil energy, as well as the elimination of pesticides”, declared Gerry Van Winden, President and Chief Executive Officer of Vegpro International. “We make every effort to reduce the repercussions our activities have on the environment, and the construction of a greenhouse complex is another gesture that demonstrates our desire to be an environmentally responsible company.”
“The project will also allow Vegpro to bring to market a new range of ‘teens’-type lettuces, which are larger and crispier than baby lettuce”, added Luc Prévost, Executive Vice-President of Sales & Marketing at Vegpro International. “This Canadian-developed technology can be used not only at Vegpro’s packing site in Sherrington, Quebec, but also at the Coldstream site in British Columbia. This project will make Canada a world leader in teen lettuce farming.”
Sustainable agriculture and carbon neutrality
The production system retained for this project will be compatible with a sustainable agriculture approach. Among its main attributes, it provides for the elimination of pesticides and the limited use of water and growth substrates, as well as their recycling. Water consumption will thereby be reduced by 90% in comparison to field production. A minimal use of fossil energy is also planned, thanks to the use of LED lighting and geothermal energy. The system optimizes the use of water, light, space and nutrients, making it a modern, viable and sustainable method of farming.
Greenhouse production is of itself a challenge in Quebec, since energy consumption is high during the process. The new greenhouse complex will allow for a significant reduction in GHG emissions, thanks to:
– the use of mobile panel technology
– the LED lighting system
– the installation of high performance heat pumps using groundwater for greenhouse heating and cooling
Part of the heating needs that can’t be provided by the heat pumps will be obtained through the recovery of residual heat emanating from the production of CO2 for the carbon enrichment of crops. In the end, the greenhouse will consume a negligible amount of natural gas. As a result, Vegpro estimates that the carbon footprint will be neutral.
For Vegpro, this is the first phase of this unique project in the country. Two years after Phase 1 goes into service, another greenhouse with the same dimensions will double the production area. The total investment will then reach over $100 million.
For more information:
514 317-5715, ext 217
According to ACIA / CFIA
Scientists and food safety authorities around the world are closely monitoring the spread of COVID-19.
There is no evidence to suggest that food is a likely source or route of transmission of the virus.
At this time, there have been no reported cases of food or food packaging being associated with the transmission of COVID-19.
All Canadians should continue to follow good hygiene practices during food handling and preparation, such as:
- washing hands
- regularly cleaning and disinfecting surfaces
- cooking meat thoroughly
- avoiding potential cross-contamination between cooked and uncooked foods
Consult Health Canada’s website for food safety tips.
According to FDA
Q : Are food products produced in the United States or other countries affected by COVID-19 a risk for the spread of COVID-19?
A: There is no evidence to suggest that food produced in the United States or imported from countries affected by COVID-19 can transmit COVID-19.
Q : Can I get the coronavirus from food, food packaging, or food containers and preparation area?
A: Currently there is no evidence of food, food containers, or food packaging being associated with transmission of COVID-19. Like other viruses, it is possible that the virus that causes COVID-19 can survive on surfaces or objects.
If you are concerned about contamination of food or food packaging, wash your hands after handling food packaging, after removing food from the packaging, before you prepare food for eating and before you eat. Consumers can follow CDC guidelines on frequent hand washing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds; and frequently clean and disinfect surfaces.
It is always important to follow the 4 key steps of food safety—clean, separate, cook, and chill.
Q : Is the U.S. food supply safe?
A: Currently there is no evidence of food or food packaging being associated with transmission of COVID-19.
Unlike foodborne gastrointestinal (GI) viruses like norovirus and hepatitis A that often make people ill through contaminated food, SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19, is a virus that causes respiratory illness and not gastrointestinal illness, and foodborne exposure to this virus is not known to be a route of transmission.
It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads. It’s always important to follow the 4 key steps of food safety—clean, separate, cook, and chill.
The pandemic has changed our daily lives, at home and at work. At Vegpro International, we have taken this challenge head on. By adapting quickly to ensure the safety of our employees while maintaining our operations, we are able to continue to offer our Atittude Fraîche products to Quebecers.
As an essential service, Vegpro International inc. has been proactive since the very beginning of the pandemic. We interact with several companies and organizations to ensure that we follow best risk control practices.
Here are the measures implemented to date:
- Behavioral rules are well followed and reinforced on a daily basis by our leaders and a Covid-19 brigade.
- Distancing is possible for all positions with a few exceptions where additional equipment is provided to secure workers.
- The factory is completely sanitized every evening, the common areas are cleaned several times a day and the offices are disinfected daily.
- Employee transportation has been doubled in order to respect health rules by reducing the number of passengers per bus.
- All visitors (employees and others) are subject to temperature measurement and access control to the factory. In addition, everyone washes their hands thoroughly before entering the building.
- Potential cases are strictly managed according to public health directives.
- All employees receive the protective equipment necessary for their safety, in connection with the risk related to their task.
- A daily newsletter is published to communicate all developments and all potential cases identified.
If you or someone close to you are looking for a stimulating job in a growing company, we invite you to consult our different job offers HERE.
For any questions or concerns, we invite you to consult our customer service HERE.