IN BRIEF – for May. 10, 2010

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Planet Organic in creditor protection

The lenders for Canadian organic food supermarket chain Planet Organic have called in their loans, leading the company to seek creditor protection.

The Edmonton company, which has shed most of its other businesses in recent months, is down to nine natural and organic food supermarkets in Alberta, Ontario, B.C. and Nova Scotia under the Planet Organic Market brand, plus 11 more in New York state and Connecticut under the Mrs. Green’s Natural Markets banner.

The company’s main lender, Toronto-based Catalyst Capital Group, on April 28 handed in its demand for payment and notices of intention to enforce security on term loans and convertible notes, to cover indebtedness of over US$31.1 million, Planet Organic said in a release.

Canaries can only eat so much

The farmers’ adage that good prices are the cure for good prices could prove true if Prairie canaryseed growers follow through on Statistics Canada’s reported intentions.

The Canaryseed Development Commission of Saskatchewan (CDCS) last month warned that StatsCan’s expectation of 510,000 canaryseed acres in 2010, combined with an average yield, “would produce more canaryseed than the market can consume.”

Prices now sitting around 15-17 cents a pound make canaryseed look like an attractive option, given the underwhelming price prospects for several other crops, the commission said.

Saskatchewan growers alone put 300,000 acres into canaryseed in 2009, the Saskatoon-based commission noted.

“Producers face difficult cropping choices as they attempt to maintain profitability, but the CDCS is cautioning producers that too many canaryseed acres may lead to disappointing price levels for an extended period of time,” the commission said.

In the short term, the market for canaryseed remains “almost exclusively as birdseed” and worldwide demand is thus likely to remain relatively constant.

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