Maple Leaf buys further into ‘meat’ market

Field Roast’s plant-based FieldBurger is made using assorted vegetables, mushrooms and barley. (

One of Canada’s biggest packaged meat companies is further expanding its space on the non-animal protein shelf with a deal for U.S. processor Field Roast Grain Meat.

Maple Leaf Foods announced Nov. 30 it will pay US$120 million (C$153.9 million) for the Seattle-based company, which makes and markets premium grain-based “meat” and vegan cheese products.

Field Roast, which set up in 1997 and today books annual sales of around US$38 million, “pioneered the development of artisanal quality, grain-based meat products and is a leading brand in the premium segment,” Maple Leaf said.

The company, which has about 200 employees at a 75,000-square foot leased plant in Seattle, makes and sells fresh and frozen grain-based roasts and loaves, burgers, sausages and frankfurters, deli slices and appetizers, and Chao brand vegan cheese slices and entrees.

Field Roast, Maple Leaf said, “draws on culinary heritage from Europe and Asia in its recipes, using grains, fresh vegetables, dried fruits, wine and spices.”

The deal is a second step into the plant-based “meat” market for Toronto-based Maple Leaf, which closed a US$140 million deal in March for Massachusetts-based burger, hot dog and tempeh maker Lightlife Foods.

“The acquisition of Field Roast complements and expands our portfolio in the fast-growing North American market for alternative proteins,” Maple Leaf CEO Michael McCain said in the company’s release Nov. 30.

“It also aligns with our vision to be a leader in sustainable protein and create shared value through making a positive social impact.”

Field Roast’s products are available in Canada, but the company briefly halted distribution in the Canadian market in 2014-15, saying federal regulations required its product labels to characterize its foods as “simulated meat products” and to meet a specified protein efficiency ratio.

“As a company, we believe there is a fundamental bias that exists in these regulations — one that holds animal proteins as the standard of all meats,” the company said in 2014. “Therefore, it is not a simple fix.”

Field Roast said in 2015 it would add pea protein and a vitamin fortification mixture to its sausages and add the words “simulated sausage” and “contains no meat” to those labels, to meet the Canadian requirements in question.

The U.S. company in 2015 also set up a Canadian vegan food processors’ trade association, the Plant Foods Council, in part to press for “a commercial and regulatory environment free from discrimination against plant food companies and government-sanctioned favoritism for animal food companies.” — Network



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