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Canada’s Top Meat Company Makes Another Plant-Based Acquisition for $120M

December 5, 2017

Canada’s self-proclaimed top packaged meat provider, Maple Leaf Foods, announced it has reached a definitive agreement to acquire Field Roast Grain Meat Co., a Seattle, Washington-based maker of premium plant-based meats for $120 million.

Headquartered in Mississauga, Ontario, Maple Leaf is a focused consumer packaged meats company that is organized into two groups – its Meat Products Group and Agribusiness Group, through which it raises and processes hogs, and sells its range of meat products primarily on the Canadian, U.S., Mexican, and Japanese markets.

This deal, which will be financed through a combination of cash-on-hand and draws from existing credit facilities, is the second vegan acquisition for Maple Leaf this year, following its purchase of U.S.-based LightLife Foods Inc. from Brynwood Partners Vi PL in February for $140 million.

“Expanding into the fast-growing plant-based proteins market is one of Maple Leaf’s strategic growth platforms and supports our commitment to become a leader in sustainability,” said Michael McCain, president and CEO of Maple Leaf, in February. “Consumers are increasingly looking to diversify their protein consumption, including plant-based options.”

Joining LightLife will be Field Roast. Founded in 1997, Field Roast is a pioneer in plant-based meats, which it makes using grains, fresh vegetables, dried fruits, wine, and spices. It’s product line includes fresh and frozen grain-based roasts, sausages, burger, frankfurters, deli meats, appetizers, Chao brand vegan cheese slices, and entrees, which are marketed across North America, earning sales of approximately $38 million.

“The acquisition of Field Roast complements and expands our portfolio in the fast-growing North American market for alternative proteins,” said McCain in a company statement announcing the acquisition. “It also aligns with our vision to be a leader in sustainable protein and create shared value through making a positive social impact.”

Plant Power

Global protein consumption is expected to climb at a CAGR of 1.7 percent, reaching 943 million tons by 2054, according to Lux Research. Over this same time period, alternative protein sources are forecast to command up to a third of the protein market. This trend is taking particular hold in the U.S. market, where 60 percent of consumers between the ages of 15 and 70 say they are reducing their intake of meat-based foods, and of those reducing their intake, 55 percent indicate that the dietary change will be permanent, according to data gathered by HealthFocus, reports Food Dive.

Maple Leaf is not the only leading meat company to make a strategic move designed to capitalize on these consumer trends.

In October of last year, Tyson Foods – the company whose very name is synonymous with the meat industry – surprised all when it announced that it would be the first key meat company to invest in a meat alternative startup that is aiming to reduce meat production and consumption with plant-based alternatives.

On October 10, 2016, Tyson announced that it had acquired a five percent stake in California-based plant-based protein company, Beyond Meat, for an undisclosed amount as part of a financing round that included previous Beyond Meat investor, the Humane Society of the United States.

Other high profile deals by mainstream food companies to gain a foothold in the rapidly growing plant-based food category include the acquisition of the Gardein line of plant-based meat alternatives by Pinnacle Foods in 2014; investments made by General Mills’ 301 Inc. in Beyond Meat and Kite Hill, a producer of dairy alternatives made from nuts and other plant proteins; the acquisition of White Wave, a producer of organic and plant-based dairy alternatives by Danone in a deal worth $12.5 billion; and the acquisition of Harvest Innovations, a soy protein and gluten-free company by Archer Daniels Midland (ADM).

And although large-scale CPGs are seeing the benefit of adding smaller plant-based niche companies to their portfolios, deals such as these also benefit the companies being acquired. For Field Roast, having Maple Leaf in its corner will help the company expand to not only expand beyond its single production site in Seattle, but to also expand its sales into the more than 20 markets in which Maple Leaf already has a presence.

-Lynda Kiernan

Lynda Kiernan is Editor with GAI Media and daily contributor to GAI News. If you would like to submit a contribution for consideration, please contact Ms. Kiernan at lkiernan@globalaginvesting.com.

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