- Maple Leaf Foods is acquiring vegan meat and cheese maker Field Roast Grain Meat for $120 million, the Canadian company said in a statement. The deal is expected to close by the end of the year.
- Field Roast is a premium maker of grain-based "meat," with annual sales of roughly $38 million. The Seattle-based company was founded in 1997 and employs about 200 people.
- "The acquisition of Field Roast complements and expands our portfolio in the fast-growing North American market for alternative proteins," Michael McCain, President and CEO, in a news release. "It also aligns with our vision to be a leader in sustainable protein and create shared value through making a positive social impact.”
Maple Leaf Foods is a century-old CPG company that calls itself Canada’s #1 packaged meats provider.But like other well-established companies, they have branched out beyond their comfort zone in an effort to respond to changing consumer tastes and eating behaviors.
In the U.S., there is growing demand for protein and clean eating. According to HealthFocus data, 60% of consumers ages 15 to 70 say they’re cutting back on meat-based products. Of those who are reducing their intake of animal-based proteins, 55% say the change is permanent, and 22% hope that it is.
The Canadian meat company is aware of these shifting tastes in the U.S., and is diversifying their portfolio. Earlier this year, Maple Leaf Foods acquired Lightlife Foods, another plant-based protein food maker, for $140 million. Now, it's doubling down on its interest in this burgeoning market with the purchase of Field Roast.
Field Roast will be an asset to Maple Leaf Foods that adds a premium vegan option to its roster. The acquisition also gives them a stronger foothold in the sustainable protein space, while delivering the gravitas of having a positive social impact.
For Maple Leaf, it will likely help the vegan meat and cheese company expand production beyond its 75,000 square-foot facility in Seattle. The Canadian company already exports to more than 20 global markets, and would be able to help Field Roast expand its market, as well.
This is not the first time a well-known meat processor broadened its interests to include vegan fare. Just last year Tyson Foods acquired a 5% stake in meat alternatives producer Beyond Meat. At the time, Tyson was the first major meat company to invest in a plant protein-based company. Now, it would appear, it started a trend. Expect to see more meat processors and packagers make similar moves.
Vegan products have increased in popularity in recent years. General Mills announced last year it would launched a new vegan-friendly soup line under its Progresso brand, Progresso Good Natured Soups. Halo Top Creamery introduced in October a new line of low-calorie ice cream flavors that are both non-dairy and vegan-friendly. And last week, Hampton Creek announced the launch of its Just Scramble vegan egg substitute that will be available nationwide in 2018. Vegan produced long have had a reputation as rubbery and often tasteless, but as vegan dairy products continue to improve their flavor, viscosity and mouthfeel, more consumers could be tempted to give them a try.