Maple Leaf to construct US$310m plant-based processing facility in Indiana

USA – Greenleaf Foods, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Canadian consumer packaged meats company, Maple Leaf Foods has unveiled plans to build a US$310 million plant-based protein food processing facility in Shelbyville, Indiana.

According to the company, the approximately 230,000 square feet facility will be the largest and investment of its kind in North America, expanding its capabilities in plant-based protein.

The investment involves US$50 million government and utility grants and incentives, including capital and one-time start-up costs as well as US$40 million in 10-year operational support.

The facility will produce tempeh, franks, sausages and raw foods including the recently launched Lightlife™ Burger, complementing the company’s supply chain network across North America.

To stay ahead of consumer demand for innovative products, Maple Leaf said it is also investing about US$26 million at its existing facilities.

This is part of the strategy to enhance growth in the plant-based protein market, which is forecast to increase due to growing demand for healthy food alternatives.

In North America, the company owns the Lightlife and Field Roast brands, a vegan category dedicated to building a portfolio of leading plant-based products.

“This investment will secure our ongoing leadership in this rapidly expanding market,” said Michael H. McCain, President and CEO.

“By establishing a large-scale North American network, we will continue to meet rapidly growing demand for delicious protein alternatives and create a centre of excellence for innovation.

“It will escalate the financial contribution of this business and advance Maple Leaf’s vision to be the most sustainable protein company on earth.”

With the new capabilities at the facility and possible future expansions, Maple Leaf said it expects to achieve 13-16% return on capital for shareholders and an overall EBITDA margin target of 14% – 16% in the plant-based protein network by 2022.

In North America, plant-based protein is estimated at US$1 billion, with refrigerated products representing 24% of the total market.

High growth rates are attributed to increasing demand for ‘healthier’ protein driven by innovation for delicious and nutritious products.

Construction of the plant will start in late spring of 2019, with production start-up expected in the fourth quarter of 2020, with ability to employ about 460 people.

Greenleaf Foods brand was launched last year by combining its vegan category-leading brands, Field Roast Grain Meat Co. and Lightlife Foods, Inc.

Last November, the company unveiled plans to construct a US$497.7 million (CAD 660 million) value-added fresh poultry processing facility.

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