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Maple Leaf Foods Proceeds to Close the Acquisition of Schneider Corporation

TORONTO, ONTARIO, Mar 30, 2004 (CCNMatthews via COMTEX) -- Maple Leaf Foods, Inc. (TSX:MFI) today announced that it expects to complete the acquisition of Schneider Corporation ("Schneider Foods") from Smithfield Foods, Inc. (NYSE:SFD) as the material conditions required to close have been met. The acquisition is expected to close early in April 2004 for a purchase price of approximately Cdn$500 million, subject to closing adjustments, which includes the assumption of approximately $80 million of Schneider Foods' outstanding debt.

Maple Leaf Foods will initially fund the acquisition price by using a combination of its existing unused credit facilities, a new short-term bank facility and the existing debt of Schneider Foods. Shortly after the acquisition, management will assess the impact of the acquisition on the Company's credit ratios, taking into account both recent earnings and the Schneider Foods contribution to cash flows, and will put in place new long-term debt and, possibly, equity financing, sufficient to ensure that the Company maintains debt ratios that provide access to investment grade debt financing.

Schneider Foods is one of Canada's largest producers of premium branded quality food products, specializing in packaged processed meats, poultry and grocery products. The company employs approximately 5,000 people at its 20 facilities across Canada.

Maple Leaf Foods Inc. is a leading Canadian food processing company committed to delivering quality food products to consumers around the world. Headquartered in Toronto, Canada, the Company employs approximately 18,000 people at its operations across Canada, and in the United States, Europe and Asia. The Company reported sales of $5.0 billion in 2003.

CONTACT:          Lynda Kuhn
                  VP Public and Investor Relations

Copyright (C) 2004, CCNMatthews. All rights reserved.

SOURCE: Maple Leaf Foods, Inc.

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