Planet Organic shelves empty as Alberta vendors claim they are owed money

Shelves looking bare, vendors waiting for payment at Planet Organic Market
WATCH: Shelves at Planet Organic Market are starting to look empty and several of their Alberta vendors say they've been waiting months to be paid for their products. The organic grocery store says it's trying to find a solution. Lisa MacGregor reports.

Some shelves at Planet Organic Market in Edmonton are noticeably empty and several Alberta vendors said they have been waiting months for the popular organic grocery store to pay them.

Edmonton company Honest Dumplings said they stopped providing Planet Organic with its product in March 2019.

Chris Lerohl said Planet Organic still owes them $6,000 after months of overdue bills.

“You don’t pay your bills then people stop supplying you. They started to roll us out to all of their stores and that’s when we stopped seeing the bills get paid,” Lerohl said.

“We’re not surprised that those shelves are empty and it’s unfortunate and I think unless they start paying their bills, I don’t think that will change.”

One Planet Organic location in downtown Edmonton posted a sign inside the store apologizing, writing: “We are experiencing some vendor issues at present but hope to be back to normal within a few weeks. Planet Organic is NOT CLOSING DOWN!”

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“It’s not really vendor problems; it’s payment problems,” Lerohl said.

Several other Alberta companies also said Planet Organic owes them money:

  • $30,000 to Winter’s Turkeys
  • $29,000 to Sage Valley Marketing
  • $21,000 Happy Camel
  • $13,248 to Pinocchio Ice Cream

Pinocchio Ice Cream said it has filed a lawsuit against Planet Organic in hopes of being paid.

In a statement to Global News, Planet Organic CEO Alan Thompson said: “Planet Organic is continuing to work on a solution. This has taken much longer than anticipated. We sympathize with all creditors and recognize their concerns. Once a solution is finalized, we will be better placed to communicate. Any restructuring plan has Planet continuing to work with its vendors.”

For Honest Dumplings, it’s not just about the unpaid debt — it’s the loss of the national grocery store getting its product to market.

“It’s particularly challenging for the whole [agriculture] ecosystem in Alberta because [for] any new companies, [Planet Organic is] kind of a first entrant that you can sell into,” Lerohl said.

There are 11 Planet Organics across Canada: nine in Alberta, one in B.C. and one in Ontario.