Canadian Prairie Garden Puree in receivership

Secured creditors applied for court protection earlier this month

Canadian Prairie Garden Puree COO Kelly Beaulieu in happier times, showcasing one of the company’s purées.

A groundbreaking Man­itoba vegetable-processing company has been forced into receivership.

Secured creditors of Can­adian Prairie Garden Puree Inc. (CPG) were granted a receivership order Mar. 22 by Court of Queen’s Bench in Winnipeg.

The accounting firm Meyers Norris Penny has been named receiver and in a court document it detailed secured creditors are owed a total of just over $6.1 million, unsecured creditors are owed just over a further $3.6 million, for a total of $9,783,270 of liabilities.

Kelly Beaulieu, the company’s founder and chief operating officer, confirmed the situation in a recent email to the Manitoba Co-operator but expressed hope this isn’t the company’s final chapter.

“We are hopeful that the business will be back in operation as soon as possible,” Beaulieu wrote.

CPG was founded in 2012 to produce purées from cull vegetables, and was based at the Food Development Centre in Portage la Prairie. It used a state-of-the-art steam infusion cooking process to aseptically package fruit and vegetable purée for the food ingredient markets.

The company said it was targeting baby foods, soups and other food products and talked of creating 60 new jobs.

At the time Beaulieu said company’s aimed to reduce food waste by providing Manitoba vegetable growers with a market for their less than eye-perfect vegetables which the retail market rejects.

The company received several awards in 2015 for its products including for Best New Product at the Manitoba Food Processors Association’s awards and a “NEXTY” award at the Natural Products Expo West in California.

The company’s unique process allows purées to be stored at room temperature for up to two years. The sterile packaging system also uses 30 per cent less water and energy than other pro­cesses currently in use in the industry.

More recently the company spoke of large growth opportunities in the organic sector. Beaulieu said last summer that 80 per cent of her business would be organic for 2016 and that to meet intensifying demand for organic purées, she had contracted six million pounds of organically grown vegetables from about 35 Manitoba growers, including larger-scale vegetable producers with certified organic acres.

Affected growers were expected to meet to discuss the matter this week.

The company’s financial problems are a setback for organic vegetable production too.

Brandon-area organic farmer Ian Grossart, who planted an acre of a specific variety of pumpkin last summer to test it under Manitoba growing conditions said the variety didn’t thrive and they weren’t able to deliver product, but CPGP still compensated them for their seed costs and labour.

“Considering we didn’t deliver anything to them, they treated us very well,” he said, adding he was surprised to hear about the company’s financial difficulties.

“It was just getting going,” he said.

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