Maple Leaf Foods, Canada’s largest meat processor, has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Field Roast Grain Meat Co., a manufacturer of vegan protein products. The maker of grain-based meat and cheese alternatives had agreed to the $120 million deal, along with related costs, on November 30. The agreement is expected to close by the end of the year after a customary regulatory review and transaction conditions.
This business move is Maple Leaf’s second transaction with a plant-based protein company this year. In February, the meat processor had acquired Lightlife Foods, Inc., a leading manufacturer of refrigerated plant-based protein foods in the US. The $140 million USD deal was finalized in March and the acquisition is expected to be accretive to Maple Leaf’s 2017 earnings.
“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 about the Lightlife acquisition.
With approximately $38 million in sales, Field Roast produces meat-free, high-protein products ranging from frozen or fresh roasts and loaves, sausages, frankfurters, burgers, deli slices and appetizers. They also produce dairy-free cheese slices and entrees under their Chao brand. Founded in 1997, the Seattle-based company has about 200 employees.
“The acquisition of Field Roast complements and expands our portfolio in the fast-growing North American market for alternative proteins,” said McCain.
“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 has built brand leadership through focusing on quality, craftsmanship and taste, and its acquisition will allow Maple Leaf to fuel growth in the category through investment, brand building and innovation.”
Other major meat processors have also invested in the plant-based protein category. Tyson Foods, the world’s largest meat producer, has had a five percent ownership stake in vegan/vegetarian protein producer Beyond Meat since October 2016. Food giant, Nestlé, had recently purchased California-based manufacturer of vegan proteins, Sweet Earth Naturals, in September.
With the US market for plant-based proteins expected to be valued at $600 million, it’s no surprise that these big players in the meat industry are interested in breaking into vegan protein options. We are likely to see more acquisitions of meat-free protein companies in the near future.