Maple Leaf Foods

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Maple Leaf Foods Inc.
Maple Leaf Foods
IndustryFood packaging
  • Canada Packers Inc.
  • Maple Leaf Mills Limited
Headquarters6897 Financial Drive, ,
Area served
Canada, United States
Key people
RevenueIncrease CA$3.94 billion (2019)[2]
Decrease Can$0.08 billion (2019)[2]
Total assetsIncrease Can$3.51 billion (2019)[2]
Total equityDecrease Can$1.95 billion (2019)[2]
Number of employees
24,000[3] (2008)

Maple Leaf Foods Inc. is a Canadian consumer packaged meats company. Its head office is in Mississauga, Ontario.


The former head office for Maple Leaf Foods is located in the third building (middle).

Maple Leaf Foods is the result of the 1991 merger between Canada Packers and Maple Leaf Mills.

Canada Packers plant in Toronto, ca. 1950.

Canada Packers was founded in 1927 as a merger of several major Toronto meat packers, most prominently William Davies Company and was immediately Canada's largest food processor, a title it would hold for the next sixty years. Already in the 1930s, it used the brand name Maple Leaf for its pork products. Its main business was pork, and its massive operations processing hogs for export to the United Kingdom helped Toronto earn its nickname "Hogtown". Moving into western Canada it became Canada's largest beef slaughterer. In 1944, it also entered the tanning industry with the acquisition of Beardmore & Co.[4]

Canada Packers diversified into other food products including ice cream, cheese, and canned and frozen fruits and vegetables, by 1950 marketed under the York brand. In 1975, it was listed as the 14th largest business in Canada.[5]

During the 1980s, Canada Packers began to suffer. It closed some facilities, including its tannery. It moved into other markets, acquiring well-known brands such as Squirrel peanut butter and Black Diamond cheese.

Maple Leaf Mills was created in 1961 through the amalgamation of the Maple Leaf Milling Company Limited, Toronto Elevators Limited and Purity Flour Mills Limited. Its origins can be traced back over 170 years to Grantham Mills, built in 1836 in St. Catharines, Ontario.[6]

In 1989, the McLean family that had dominated Canada Packers since its founding announced its intention to sell its stake in the company. The controlling interest passed in 1990 to the British Hillsdown Holdings, which already owned Maple Leaf Mills, through a complex transaction in which Canada Packers purchased Maple Leaf Mills in exchange for its own shares.[7] In 1991, the combined company was renamed Maple Leaf Foods.[8] The firm thus included a large bread division, best known for the Dempster's brand. During restructuring efforts led by David Newton as CEO and Lewis Rose as CFO, it sold or closed most of its slaughterhouses. These measures were successful and the company returned to profitability.

After being successfully revived, Maple Leaf Foods was purchased by Wallace McCain, formerly co-CEO of McCain Foods, who had been ousted by his brother and co-owner Harrison McCain, in 1995 along with the Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan. In 2002, the company purchased San Francisco-based Grace Baking Company.[9] In 2003, the company purchased rival meat packer Schneider Foods (founded by John Metz Schneider in 1890 in Berlin, now Kitchener, Ontario). The company is also one of Canada's largest agribusinesses, owning poultry and hog farms across the country. The main slaughterhouse is located in Brandon, Manitoba.

As the result of a series of divestitures culminating with the 2014 sale of the bakery division (Canada Bread Company), Maple Leaf today now only produces and sells fresh & packaged meats, as well as plant-based protein products via its acquisition of Lightlife and Field Roast.[6]

In late 2018, the company announced that the old plants in St. Marys, Brampton and Toronto, Ontario, Canada were scheduled to close in subsequent years but that a new poultry plant would be built in London. The cost of the 60,000 square meter facility was estimated at over $600 million partly funded by $34.5 million from the Ontario government and $28 million from the federal government. The closures were necessary because the relevant plants were "50 to 60 years old and severely growth constrained because of location, footprint or infrastructure and nearing the end of their productive capacity", according to CEO Michael McCain. As of November 2018, the company employed over 11,000 people across Canada and was selling its products in over 20 global markets.[10]

In January 2020, CEO Michael McCain garnered media attention for criticizing "a narcissist in Washington"[11] regarding events preceding Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 being shot down by Iran, in a series of tweets from the company Twitter account.[12] McCain, who has been noted by media as "a role model for crisis management",[13] was lauded by some, for his "humanity",[14] and criticized by others, for supplanting shareholder primacy, as reactive calls for a boycott of the company impacted stock prices.[11]

In February 2021, the company admitted in a management report that it was target of an "ongoing investigation by the Competition Bureau into the Canadian bread industry, including alleged price fixing and related securities disclosure issues."[15] The company also noted in the management report that "Unfavourable resolution of these or other legal matters could have a material adverse effect on the Company, its financial condition and its reputation".

Canadian news website The Tyee reported in June 2021 that the Canada's anti-trust enforcement branch the Competition Bureau had raided Maple Leaf Foods in 2019 and taken company files off-site. Legal counsel for Maple Leaf Foods and CEO Michael McCain made blanket claims of privilege on all seized assets, which has made the files unavailable to investigators. The documents used to obtain warrants included a reference by Michael McCain of applying pricing strategies used for bread — alleged to be illegal — to meat prices.[16]

In May 2022, Michael McCain announced that he would become executive chair and will hand over CEO responsibilities to Curtis Frank by the 2023 annual meeting.[17]

Mitchell's Gourmet Foods[edit]

Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, is the headquarters of Mitchell's Gourmet Foods, formerly known as Intercontinental Packers, which produces the "Olympic Fine Meats" line of products and is one of Canada's largest meat processors, employing more than 1,400 Saskatonians.

Originally established in Saskatoon in 1940 by Fred Mendel as Intercontinental Packers, the business concentrated on canned meat products sold into the US and bacon for Britain during the war years. In 1998, the family-run business changed its name to Mitchell's Gourmet Foods.

In 1999, an alliance was formed with Schneider Corporation, and eventually the business was sold to Schneider on 12 November 2002. On 25 September 2003, Schneider was acquired by Maple Leaf Foods. Mitchell continues as an independent operating company of Schneider Foods. However, on 12 October 2006, Maple Leaf Foods, owners of Mitchell's, announced it would be closing down its major plant in Saskatoon over the next three years.[18] A portion of the Circle Drive - 11th Street interchange now occupies part of the land.

On 1 March 2007, Maple Leaf Foods announced that it would cease operations of the cut/kill departments at their Saskatoon slaughterhouse. The last day of operation was 1 June 2009.

Meat alternatives[edit]

In April 2019, the company announced their intent to expand products that are alternatives to meat. The plan included the purchase of a 230,000-sq.-ft.processing plant in Shelbyville, Indiana. When completed in late 2020, this facility would become the largest of its kind in North America, according to the company. Maple Leaf was already marketing meatless products such as burgers and sausages under its LightLife brand, designed to closely resemble meat in appearance and flavour. Plant-based products were being manufactured at its Greenleaf Foods SPC plant-based division in Chicago, at a LightLife plant in Massachusetts and at Field Roast’s in Seattle. The location of the new plant was logical because "more than 95 per cent of the LightLife and Field Roast business is in the United States today", according to the company.[19] Maple Leaf announced, in January 2021, that it would instead purchase an existing plant in Indianapolis.[20]

Canadian Food Inspection Agency recall[edit]

In August 2008, shortly after a plant closure, Maple Leaf Foods announced a recall for several products which was later expanded to products from Maple Leaf, Schneiders, McDonald's, and other products.

While not immediately clear, the outbreak of Listeriosis would kill 22 people and ail a further 35 more.[21]

According to the National Post, the recall took place on 24 August 2008 and included all cured meats manufactured from a contaminated Toronto plant.[22] By 25 August, the outbreak had claimed as many as five lives and sickened dozens.[22] The Canadian Food Inspection Agency issued a public warning against consuming several Maple Leaf products due to possible contamination with Listeria monocytogenes.[23] CEO Michael McCain issued a statement of condolence to those affected by the outbreak.[24]

That same day, the Public Health Agency of Canada announced that 21 cases of the listeriosis outbreak had been confirmed in four provinces.[citation needed] Three deaths in Ontario were officially tied to the deadly strain of the food-borne listeria bacterium, and a fourth death on Vancouver Island was also attributed to the strain.[citation needed] The public health agency also said a further 30 suspected cases remain under investigation.[25]

On 27 August 2008, The Globe and Mail reported a leaked Conservative cabinet document which outlined plans for the Canadian Food Inspection Agency to give the food industry a greater role in the inspection process. However, some of the plans had been in place since 31 March 2008 according to a CFIA manager and an official from the union that represents the federal inspectors.[26]

At the Maple Leaf plant behind the Listeria outbreak, a single federal inspector was relegated to auditing company paperwork and had to deal with several other plants, the manager and the union official said, contradicting the impression that officials had left last week that full-time watchdogs were on-site. Under the new system, federal inspectors do random product tests only three or four times a year at any given plant, and meat packers are required to test each type of product only once a month. Under the old system, inspectors had a more hands-on role on the plant floor, did more of the tests themselves and had more freedom to investigate, said former CFIA inspector.[26]

Prime Minister Stephen Harper rejected any suggestions that the federal government was not doing enough. The Conservative government's changes were the subject of heated controversy as academics and the opposition express concerns over the few details that had emerged so far. The 2008 budget indicated the CFIA was asked to find savings to pay for new programs. The leaked document indicated savings would be found by transferring some meat-inspection duties to industry.[26]

Since 2008, there have been:

  • 38 confirmed cases of listeriosis across Canada (22 in Ontario, 4 in B.C., 2 in Quebec and 1 in Saskatchewan).
  • 30 suspected cases (16 in Ontario, 10 in Quebec and 4 in Alberta)
  • 9 confirmed deaths caused by the outbreak (all in Ontario)[27]
  • 11 suspected deaths (6 in Ontario, 2 in Alberta, 1 in B.C., 1 in Saskatchewan and 1 in Quebec)[26]

2009 precautionary recall[edit]

On 4 August 2009, roughly one year after the 2008 recall of Maple Leaf Foods products due to listeriosis contamination, another recall was ordered on nine wiener products.[28] Brands affected were Hygrade, Shopsy's and Maple Leaf at its plant in Hamilton, Ontario, due to the possibility that they may have contained traces of Listeria monocytogenes. No cases of listeriosis related to this recall were confirmed.

United Kingdom[edit]

In 1996, Maple Leaf Bakery UK was established in Rotherham as a speciality bakery subsidiary of Canada Bread which in turn is 89.8% owned by Maple Leaf Foods. It operates from a total of six sites in the UK and employs around 1,200 employees. It owns the New York Bagel brand and currently makes over 90% of the 200 million bagels supplied to the UK retail and wholesale market.

In recent years, Maple Leaf has diversified from its traditional bagel market into new areas of speciality bakery business. In 2006, it acquired The French Croissant Company, Avance and the Harvestime Bakery. These three purchases were followed by the purchase of premium breads supplier La Fornaia in August 2007 and, three months later in November, Bernard Matthews bakery in Dunstable.[29]

The company's key products now include bagels, ciabatta, croissants, artisan breads, baguettes, soft pretzels, bialys and tear'n'share breads.

In December 2008, after trying to take over north London based rival The Bagel Group, allegations were made by the owner of The Bagel Group via the tabloid Sunday Mirror newspaper to the Office of Fair Trading of price fixing, after Managing Director Peter Maycock was filmed in a Chinese restaurant.[30]

Grupo Bimbo[edit]

In February 2014, Canada Bread, in which Maple Leaf Foods previously had a 90% stake, was acquired by the multinational Grupo Bimbo for Can$1.83 billion. The remaining Maple Leaf Foods is a protein-only company with approximately Can$3 billion in revenue.

See also[edit]

  • Maple Leaf Mills Silos
  • TREMERE: Arnold Tremere, M.Sc., Ph.D., Nutritionist and Director of Nutrition and Research Maple Leaf Mills Agriculture division, Toronto; General Manager of Maple Leaf Mills, Western Region, Calgary.[31]


  1. ^ "Senior Leadership Team | Who We Are – Maple Leaf Foods". Retrieved 10 April 2020.
  2. ^ a b c d "Maple Leaf Foods" (PDF). Maple Leaf Foods. Retrieved 11 May 2020.
  3. ^ "Company Profile for Maple Leaf Foods Inc (CA;MFI)". Archived from the original on 29 February 2012. Retrieved 9 October 2008.
  4. ^ "Special Commemorative Pullout Section - Marking the 20th anniversary of Beardmore closing" (PDF). The New Tanner. 14 September 2006. Retrieved 29 May 2012.
  5. ^ [1] Archived 7 July 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ a b "Our History". Maple Leaf Foods. Archived from the original on 26 January 2016. Retrieved 29 January 2016.
  7. ^ MacLachlan, Ian (2001). Kill and Chill: Restructuring Canada's Beef Commodity Chain. Toronto: University of Toronto Press. pp. 192–3. ISBN 9780802078322.
  8. ^ Bertin, Oliver (4 May 1991). "Losing the gristle". The Globe and Mail. p. B18.
  9. ^ "Maple Leaf Foods Acquires Grace Baking Company to Expand its Artisan Bread Product Line". Maple Leaf Foods - 2002 Company News Releases. 8 October 2002. Retrieved 29 January 2016.
  10. ^ "Maple Leaf Foods to build new London plant, close three others in Ontario". CP24. 26 November 2018. Retrieved 13 April 2019. It will lead to a net reduction of about 300 jobs...McCain said he "deeply" regrets the impact on existing employees, but the plant will allow it to earn and extra $105 million
  11. ^ a b Pittis, Don (14 January 2020). "Maple Leaf Foods boss attack on Trump pits ethics against shareholder value". CBC News. Retrieved 27 January 2020.
  12. ^ Shah, Maryam (13 January 2020). "'Livid' Maple Leaf Foods CEO takes to Twitter to express frustration over Iran plane crash". Global News. Retrieved 27 January 2020.
  13. ^ Pitts, Gordon (14 May 2011). "Wallace McCain, food-business giant, dies at 81". The Globe and Mail. Archived from the original on 4 November 2016. Retrieved 27 January 2020.
  14. ^ Deegan, Paul (14 January 2020). "Michael McCain, President and Chief Executive Officer of Maple Leafs Foods Inc. Contributors Opinion Let's give Michael McCain, CEO of Maple Leaf Foods, a break". The Toronto Star. Retrieved 27 January 2020.
  15. ^ "Management's Discussion and Analysis" (PDF).
  16. ^ "Grocery Giants Discussed Fixing More Than Bread Prices, Court Files Suggest". 14 June 2021.
  17. ^ Andrew Willis (4 May 2022). "Michael McCain steps down as CEO of Maple Leaf Foods". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 5 May 2022.
  18. ^ "Five Generations of Goodness". Archived from the original on 20 June 2006.
  19. ^ Edmiston, Jake (9 April 2019). "Maple Leaf embracing meatless alternatives as plant-based protein goes 'mainstream' | Financial Post". Financial Post. Retrieved 9 April 2019. Maple Leaf Foods Inc., the Canadian meat processing empire, is pushing further into the meatless business, betting hundreds of millions of dollars that plant-based meat alternatives are "on the cusp of becoming mainstream".
  20. ^ "maple-leaf-foods-expanding-with-100m-tempeh-plant". 13 January 2021.
  21. ^ Government of Canada, Public Services and Procurement Canada. "Information archivée dans le Web" (PDF). Retrieved 17 August 2020.
  22. ^ a b Hanes, Allison. Maple Leaf steps up recall. 25 August 2008. National Post. Cover page: A1. Accessed 15 September 2008.
  23. ^ "CFIA recall notice and list of affected products". Archived from the original on 24 August 2008.
  24. ^ "Maple Leaf CEO Michael H. McCain Responds to Determination of Link to Plant" Maple Leaf official website
  25. ^ Nicole Baer and Larissa Liepins "Deadly listeriosis outbreak traced to Maple Leaf meats" Archived 2008-08-28 at the Wayback Machine
  26. ^ a b c d Tu Thanh Ha; Bill Curry; Anne Mcilroy (27 August 2008). "Inspectors failed to adopt more rigorous U.S. measures". Globe and Mail. Archived from the original on 29 August 2008. Retrieved 27 August 2008.
  27. ^ news staff (29 August 2008). "Confirmed deaths rise in listeriosis outbreak". CTV. Retrieved 29 August 2008.
  28. ^ "Maple Leaf Foods 2009 Recall". Archived from the original on 9 July 2012. Retrieved 4 August 2009.
  29. ^ "Maple Leaf UK acquires Bernard Matthews site - British Baker".
  30. ^ "Bagel wars - boss of company with 90 per cent of market in 'price-fix' scandal - Video". Sunday Mirror. 7 December 2008. Retrieved 7 December 2008.
  31. ^ "Gone but not forgotten - Tremere". Home arrow Obituaries - Medicine Hat arrow TREMERE. 2008. Retrieved 12 December 2008.

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