Alternative protein company Green Leaf Foods invests US$100m in construction of new US production facility

US – Greenleaf Foods, a North American leader in plant-based protein products, has announced plans of investing up to US$100 million in the construction of a new production facility.

Greenleaf Foods in a statement said that the production facility will be used to to ramp up production of Lightlife tempeh products in response to rising demand.

Maple Leaf, Greenleaf Food’s parent company, said that the proposed facility will be located in Indianapolis and will be 118,000-square-foot in size.

The company expects the purchase to close in early April while full operations at the facility are not expected until the first half of 2022.

Greenleaf further noted that upon commissioning, the Indianapolis plant will have an initial production capacity of about 99.2 million pounds of tempeh.

This is the second Indiana manufacturing facility that Chicago-based Greenleaf has planned since its launch in 2018.

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The company announced plans in 2019 to build North America’s largest plant-based protein facility in Shelbyville, Indiana.

The company said in the tempeh plant announcement that the pandemic and other factors have delayed the project.

 By acquiring the Indianapolis plant, the company however hopes to quickly ramp up tempeh production in the short term while continuing to develop Shelbyville plans for the future.

Lightlife Foods, the brand whose products will be produced at the facility, was acquired by Canadian packaged meat supplier Maple Leaf Foods in 2017.

The brand, according to a report by Food Dive, was critical in enabling Maple Leaf to launch its plant -based protein subsidiary Greenleaf subsidiary and sped up the innovation pipeline.

The Canadian meat company has since succeeded in getting trendy plant-based products on store shelves across the United States.

 In 2019, Lightlife debuted its first plant-based burger made with pea protein and even went ahead to challenge Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat to simplify their ingredients lists.

Last November, Lightlife’s tempeh made its debut in Walmart, bringing its total distribution to 18,500 retail locations.

The company also underwent a brand refresh that resulted in retail sales of the Lightlife brand rosing more than 44% in the 52 weeks ending Oct. 4, 2019, according to IRI and SPINS data cited by the company.

Being a dominant player in the Tempeh category gives Green Leaf a powerful differentiator at a time when plant-based space is becoming increasingly crowded, with new players, proteins and brands jockeying for consumers’ attention.

Ramping up production and ensuring the product get to the market is thus the only way to have a competitive advantage over other playes. The Indianapolis facility serves this purpose and is thus a perfectly timed investment.

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