Maple Leaf pivots to plant-based proteins with new U.S. factory

Indiana plant will double its production of pea and grain-based protein alternatives


Maple Leaf is investing heavily in plant-based products, including tempeh, franks and other meat alternatives.(Greenleaf)

MIssissauga, Ont-based Maple Leaf Foods is investing in meat alternatives, building the largest plant in North America for plant-based protein.

The $310-million US plant in Shelbyville, Indiana, about 50 km from Indianapolis, will more than double Maple Leaf’s capacity to produce plant-based protein products for the Canadian and U.S. markets.

Construction is expected to start in late spring this year, with production start-up expected in the fourth quarter of 2020.

Demand for meat alternatives growing

The company, once known mainly for its processed meats, estimates sales of plant-based protein in North America topped $1 billion in 2018. In a conference call with investors, CEO Michael McCain said he expects double-digit growth in the segment for the foreseeable future.

“North American consumers are seeking more protein and more protein choices in their diet,” he said. “Plant-based protein is on the cusp of becoming mainstream with incredible growth potential.” MORE