SunOpta, the Canadian food group, has announced the approval of its shareholder rights plan by the company's board of directors.

The Toronto stock exchange accepted notice of the plan on Monday (6 October) subject to, among other things, confirmation by the company's shareholders by 2 April 2009.

The purpose of the plan is to provide the company sufficient time to develop and implement alternatives to maximise value for all shareholders in the event of an unsolicited bid for control of the company and to enhance its ability to prevent any unfair acquisition tactics.

Jeremy Kendall, chairman of the board, said: "The board of directors has implemented this plan to ensure that the interests of all shareholders are served in a fair and equitable manner in the event of an unsolicited takeover bid for control of the company.

"The company remains focused on the creation of long term sustainable shareholder value through a combination of continued revenue growth and improved operating margins and asset utilisation and believes that implementation of a shareholder rights plan is also an important step in the value creation process."

The company said it has not received any proposals, and the plan is not intended to, and will not, hinder full and fair offers for control of the company that are made to all shareholders.