CAN (QC): Financial aid needed for Les Serres Lefort

Canadian greenhouse grower Les Serres Lefort is in financial trouble. Due to problems in both the organic production and the ability to make money with organic products, they were urged to file for bankruptcy protection. The major greenhouse grower is now in strategic negotiation to ensure the continuity of the company and hopes to find a partner that values their organic activities.

Organic vegetables
Les Serres Lefort is a major organic greenhouse grower and propagator in Quebec, growing on an acreage of 20 hectare on a single site. Over the years the company has seen impressive growth. Founded in 1984, Les Serres Lefort produces 65% of plant grafts in Quebec for producers of field crops. The company is also contracted to produce a large share of greenhouse lettuce sold under the Mirabel label. Since 2013, the company has been marketing greenhouse vegetables under the VÔG and VÔG BIO brands.

In 2016  the company announced a $27M investment for the construction of 8 greenhouse hectares that would be used to produce organic vegetables for the North American market. The company would produce organic vegetables including cucumbers and mini cucumbers on an annual basis and bell peppers on a seasonal basis, from March to December. In terms of numbers, this meant that Les Serres Lefort would now produce over 500,000 cases of cucumbers and 250,000 cases of peppers every year.

Local newspaper La Terre de Chez Nous reports on the financial issues of the company and asked general manager Claude Laniel about it. He talks about difficulties with the organic market, both in terms of yeald and in terms of marketing. He now hopes that the organic character of the company will continue, but fears that the people who will invest in Les Serres Lefort put the bio aside to make the operations profitable in the short term. "We would lose the expertise that Lefort have acquired in organic for three years."

The company owes nearly $45 million, of which $31 million to Desjardins, and $6.9 million to Investissement Québec. A full list of creditors, which includes a number of greenhouse industry suppliers, has been published by Raymond Chabot.

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