SunOpta Announces FY09 Q3 Results

SunOpta Inc. ("SunOpta" or "the Company"), a leading global company focused on natural, organic and specialty foods and natural health products, today announced financial results for the third quarter ended September 30, 2009. All amounts are expressed in U.S. dollars and results are reported in accordance with U.S. GAAP, except where specifically noted.

The Company realized revenues of $253.8 million in the third quarter of 2009 versus third quarter 2008 revenues of $287.7 million, a year over year decrease of 11.8%. After adjusting for revenue declines in non-food operations plus the impact on revenues due to changes in foreign exchange rates and commodity prices, food revenues declined approximately 4% in the third quarter of 2009 versus the third quarter of 2008.

For the third quarter of 2009 the Company reported a loss on a GAAP basis of ($4.7) million or ($0.07) per diluted common share. Adjusted earnings(1) for the third quarter of 2009 were $4.4 million or $0.07 per diluted common share versus adjusted earnings(1) in the third quarter of 2008 of $5.2 million or $0.08 per diluted common share. Third quarter results include the impact of additional pre-tax costs of $10.6 million including net non-cash charges after minority interest of $4.8 million related to the impairment of goodwill in the Company's subsidiary, Opta Minerals Inc., pre-tax costs of $2.6 million related to ongoing product and facility rationalization efforts which includes non-cash charges of $1.0 million, pre-tax costs of $1.5 million related to the ongoing revitalization and re-launch of a number of company owned natural health products brands and additional legal, professional and banking fees of $1.7 million related to the 2007 restatement and class action settlement, a legal action in the SunOpta BioProcess Group and costs related to banking amendments. Adjusted earnings(1) excluding the impact of foreign exchange gains for the third quarter of 2009 were $3.8 million or $0.06 per diluted common share versus adjusted earnings(1) excluding the impact of foreign exchange of $2.4 million or $0.04 per diluted common share in the third quarter of 2008.

On a segment basis both the SunOpta Grains and Foods Group and the SunOpta Ingredients Group had very strong earnings achieving their operating income targets of 6.1% and 16.4% respectively. The SunOpta Ingredients Group realized record quarterly operating income of approximately $2.9 million. Within the Fruit Group the processed fruit ingredients and healthy fruit snack segments realized strong results as compared to the prior year, offset by losses within the frozen fruit segment due to lower than expected retail sales and additional product rationalization costs as the segment is transformed. Both the International Sourcing and Trading Group and Opta Minerals Inc. returned to positive operating income in the quarter as a result of numerous cost improvements combined with improving external markets. The Distribution Group continues to evolve its business and incurred brand re-launch costs in the quarter as well as costs to reduce inventory levels and rationalize its product portfolio.

SunOpta BioProcess continues to focus on building its business and establishing strategic partnerships with companies in the energy and petrochemical sectors.

At September 30, 2009, the Company's balance sheet reflects a current working capital ratio of 1.70 to 1.00, long-term debt to equity ratio of 0.46 to 1.00 and total debt to equity ratio of 0.71 to 1.00. During the third quarter the Company generated cash from operating activities of $19.3 million including cash generated from working capital of $13.6 million, reflecting ongoing efforts to reduce working capital, especially inventories, across the Company. The Company also continued to focus on reducing debt and realized a decrease of approximately $19.5 million versus the second quarter of 2009 and a reduction of approximately $38.2 million versus the prior year. At September 30, 2009 the Company has total assets of $564.5 million and a net book value of $3.60 per outstanding share.

At September 30, 2009, the Company is in compliance with the amended financial covenants that were negotiated with its banking syndicate earlier this year. On October 30, 2009, the Company entered into a new three-year syndicated Asset-Based Lending ("ABL") credit facilities. The ABL facilities amend and replace the Company's previous credit facilities. Credit limits under the ABL facilities are based on eligible accounts receivable and inventory balances, as determined on a monthly basis. The ABL facilities also provides for a decreased interest rate premium charged on outstanding balances, which are based on new financial ratios.

For the nine months ended September 30, 2009, the Company realized revenues of $743.6 million versus revenues of $810.1 million for the nine months ended September 30, 2008. After adjusting for revenue declines in non-core food operations and the impact on revenues due to changes in foreign exchange rates and commodity prices, food revenues have declined approximately 2% versus the same period in 2008.

On a GAAP basis for the nine months ended September 30, 2009 the Company realized a loss of ($4.5) million or ($0.07) per diluted common share. Adjusted earnings(1) for the nine months ended September 30, 2009 were $9.0 million or $0.14 per diluted common share versus adjusted earnings(1) in the comparable period in 2008 of $13.5 million or $0.21 per diluted common share. The 2009 results include additional pre-tax costs of $17.3 million, including net non-cash charges of $4.8 million related to the impairment of goodwill in the Company's subsidiary, Opta Minerals Inc., pre-tax costs of $6.6 million related to ongoing product and facility rationalization efforts which includes non-cash charges of $1.0 million, pre-tax costs of $2.7 million related to the ongoing revitalization and re-launch of a number of company owned natural health products brands and additional legal, professional and banking fees of $3.2 million related to the 2007 restatement and class action settlement, a legal action in the SunOpta BioProcess Group and costs related to banking amendments. Adjusted earnings(1) excluding the impact of foreign exchange gains for the nine months ended September 30, 2009 were $8.7 million or $0.13 per diluted common share versus adjusted earnings(1) excluding the impact of foreign exchange of $10.0 million or $0.15 per diluted common share in the nine months ended September 30, 2008.

Steve Bromley, President and Chief Executive Officer of SunOpta commented: "We are pleased with the strong results within the Grains and Foods Group, Ingredients Group and certain segments of the Fruit Group, combined with improving results within our International Sourcing and Trading Group and Opta Minerals Inc. We are confident that the changes occurring in the Frozen Fruit segment of the Fruit Group and the Distribution Group will pay dividends down the road. Our balance sheet continues to improve with reduced working capital levels, tight control on capital spending and net reductions in debt. Our primary focus continues to be the improvement of operating margins and return on assets employed, to be realized through a combination of aggressive working capital management and continuous improvement initiatives. Our new ABL credit facilities, when combined with our ongoing business improvement initiatives are expected to provide the Company with the liquidity and flexibility to support our long-term goals and commitments. We are confident that our cost control, efficiency, product development and asset utilization initiatives are key to delivering long term sustainable returns as interest in health and wellness continues to gain attention around the globe."

As previously announced, the Company is not providing specific revenue and earnings guidance for 2009. The Company will continue to provide updates when appropriate related to material changes in business affairs resulting from changes in the business and related economic conditions.

The Company plans to host a conference call at 10:00 AM Eastern Time on Friday, November 6th, 2009, to discuss these results and recent corporate developments. The conference call can be accessed via a link at the Company's website at www.sunopta.com. Additionally, the call may be accessed with the toll free dial-in number 1 866 439-4712 or 212-457-9845 followed by pass code: 391845#. A replay number can also be accessed between November 6th and 16th with the toll free dial-in number 1-866-439-4729 or 212-457-9846 followed by pass code: 382427#.

About SunOpta Inc.

SunOpta Inc. is an operator of high-growth ethical businesses, focusing on integrated business models in the natural and organic food and natural health markets. The Company has three business units: the SunOpta Food Group, which specializes in sourcing, processing and distribution of natural and organic food products integrated from seed through packaged products; Opta Minerals Inc. /quotes/comstock/11t!opm (CA:OPM 1.31, 0.00, 0.00%) (66.5% owned by SunOpta), a producer, distributor, and recycler of environmentally friendly industrial materials; and SunOpta BioProcess Inc. which engineers and markets proprietary steam explosion technology systems for the bio-fuel, pulp and food processing industries. SunOpta believes that each of these business units has proprietary products and services that give it a solid competitive advantage in its sector.

Forward Looking Statements

Certain statements included in this press release may be considered "forward-looking statements" within the meaning of the United States Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 and applicable Canadian securities legislation, which are based on information available to us on the date of this release. These forward-looking statements include, but are not limited to, management's expectations regarding future benefits of ongoing revitalization of a number natural health products brands, benefits of new banking arrangements, continued and increasing interest in the health and wellness consumer markets, as well as cost control, product development and asset utilization initiatives and working capital management and continuous improvement measures, and overall improved returns for 2009. The terms and phrases "ongoing", "improving", "continued", "establishing", "improving", "will", "believe", "confident", "to be realized", and other similar terms and phrases are intended to identify these forward looking statements. Forward looking statements are based on information available to us on the date of this release and are based on estimates and assumptions made by the Company in light of its experience and its perception of historical trends, current conditions and expected future developments as well as other factors the Company believes are appropriate in the circumstances including, but not limited to, general economic conditions, applicable tax legislation, consumer trends, preferences and spending patterns, product pricing levels, current customer demand, competitive intensity, cost rationalization, product development initiatives, existing supply contracts and the terms of the Company's credit facilities. Whether actual timing and results will agree with expectations and predications of the Company is subject to many risks and uncertainties including, but not limited to, global economic conditions, changes in consumer spending patterns and market trends, decreases in customer demand, potential failure of product development, working capital management and continuous improvement initiatives, availability and pricing of raw materials and supplies, restrictive covenants in the Company's new credit facilities and other risks described from time to time under "Risk Factors" in the Company's Annual Report of Form 10-K and its Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q (available at www.sec.gov). Consequently all forward-looking statements made herein are qualified by these cautionary statements and there can be no assurance that the actual results or developments anticipated by the Company will be realized.

(1) Adjusted earnings is not a GAAP measure. SunOpta believes adjusted earnings (adjusted for the impact of non recurring start-up and operational costs, severance and closure costs, marketing costs in support of brand relaunches and certain professional fees) provides useful information to understand the underlying performance of the business and as a result these items have been adjusted. A reconciliation of this non-GAAP measure to GAAP is included at the end of the release.

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