Maple Leaf to review plant-based division following lackluster performance

CANADA – Canadian meat giant, Marple Leaf has announced plans to review its plant-based division, Greenleaf Foods, following disappointing sales in the last two quarters. 

Maple Leaf Foods owns plant-based brands Field Roast, Chao and Lightlife, all of which were acquired in 2017 as a strategy to invest in the fast-growing plant-based sector. 

Despite plant-based proteins being trendy and consistently ranking in Innova’s top 10 market trends, sales for Marple Leaf dropped 20.7% in the August quarter before plunging further by 6.6% in the latest quarter.  

Michael McCain, CEO of the Canadian meat giant, said in his earnings call that growth rates for its plant-based products “have, to be frank, evaporated.”  

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He said the company would be looking at the space as a whole and what has changed for consumers in the last year. 

Executives at Marple Leaf also express the same opinion as their CEO and in the business review, plan to focus on consumers and figure out the root cause of this change in behavior.  

Maple Leaf’s review of the business — and its lower numbers overall — are somewhat surprising because the company has actively invested in and promoted its plant-based brands in the recent past.  

The company also said in May it had figured out how to make the most meat-like plant-based chicken through advanced high-moisture extrusion and has been rolling the improved product this year. 

Greenleaf also recently launched several new products, including a Field Roast plant-based pepperoni at both stores and at Little Caesar’s Pizza locations. It also recently invested US$100 million in a Lightlife tempeh plant in January. 

Greenleaf brands is not the only one experiencing a slowdown. Beyond Meat, one of the market leaders recently reduced its third-quarter outlook to net revenues of about US$106 million from prior guidance of US$120 million to US$140 million.  

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Beyond Meat has also reported having experienced an unexpected decrease in retail orders and delays in distribution expansion and shelf resets because of labor shortages and shortfalls in foodservice. 

Kellogg, which owns MorningStar Farms and its Incogmeato brand, also reported a decline in brand sales in the last quarter in its earnings report this week.  

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