Protein powerhouse Maple Leaf Foods is adding another major brand to its repertoire, acquiring refrigerated plant-based protein provider Lightlife Foods, Inc. for US$140 million. Purchasing from the latter’s parent company, Brynwood Partners VI L.P., Maple Leaf’s acquisition is expected to close in March, subject to customary U.S. regulatory review.
"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," shared Michael McCain, Maple Leaf’s President and CEO. "Consumers are increasingly looking to diversify their protein consumption, including plant-based options. The acquisition of Lightlife provides Maple Leaf with a leading market position and brand in the United States in a category that is outpacing growth in the broader packaged foods sector.”
McCain also pressed that the company will continue to expand its presence through investments in brand building, innovation, and leveraging both entities’ respective capabilities.
In 2016, Lightlife showed sales nearing US$40 million, with a 38% market share in the U.S. refrigerated plant proteins market, according to a press release. The company is based in Turners Falls, Massachusetts, where it employs 100 people and manufactures more than 30 products, including plant-based tempeh, hot dogs, breakfast foods, and burgers. Lightlife management will remain in control of the company’s business, and will operate as a subsidiary of Maple Leaf.
"We at Lightlife are truly excited about today's announcement which will allow us to accelerate our growth and broaden our reach in the fast growing plant-based protein market. Maple Leaf Foods has an industry leading commitment to sustainable protein, including a strategic focus on plant proteins, and being part of this incredible organization will enable the continued growth of our brands," added Roy Lubetkin, President and CEO, Lightlife Foods.
Maple Leaf said it is committed to lead through addressing environmental and social issues, including sustainability, animal welfare, food security, and nutrition and health. This expansion into plant-based proteins is aimed at furthering this commitment and providing growth opportunities in advancing sustainable meat.
As explained by Maple Leaf foods, the U.S. market for plant-based proteins is estimated at US$600 million, with the refrigerated category representing over US$110 million and delivering double-digit annual growth.