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Maple Leaf Proceeds with Double-Shift Expansion at Brandon Plant

TORONTO, Mar 18, 2008 (Canada NewsWire via COMTEX News Network) — Major Expansion Also Underway at Lagimodiere Road Plant in Winnipeg;

Warman Road Facility to Close in September


TORONTO, March 18 /CNW/ – Maple Leaf Foods (MFI: TSX) today announced that it is proceeding to double-shift the value-added cut operations at its Brandon, Manitoba pork processing plant.

The Company is investing approximately $50 million to support this expansion, which will commence in June and be completed in September, 2008. Maple Leaf will also be increasing production at the plant from 75,000 to 86,000 hogs per week by the end of 2009 to consolidate all of its primary pork processing in Brandon. In addition, the Company is investing approximately $25 million to expand its Lagimodiere Road plant in Winnipeg to consolidate its ham boning operations in western Canada in one dedicated facility.

By the end of 2009, Maple Leaf will create over 1100 new jobs at these facilities, supported by an investment of over $120 million. These initiatives are critical milestones in implementing the Company’s new protein business model, including consolidating its primary pork processing at one scale facility, and producing high quality fresh pork products to support growth in its value-added meats and meals businesses.

As a result of these expansions, the Company will close its fresh pork operation located on Warman Road in Winnipeg, which currently processes carcasses received from Brandon into value-added pork products. Maple Leaf expects to close the Warman Road plant by the end of September 2008 as it completes the ramp-up of the value-added cut operations in Brandon. The Warman Road facility employs approximately 650 people, who will be encouraged to apply for new jobs at the Lagimodiere Road and Brandon facilities, and will be provided financial and outplacement services to ease their transition to new employment.

“Manitoba is a major growth centre for our value-added meat processing operations,” said Rick Young, President, Maple Leaf Consumer Foods. “Through our $120 million investment in the province, we are establishing highly efficient scale plants that are globally competitive, securing a strong future for the Manitoba pork industry, and creating ongoing growth opportunities in our value-added meat and meals businesses. We sincerely regret the impact on our employees at Warman Road, and will proactively support them to secure new employment at other Maple Leaf plants or in the local economy.”

Maple Leaf Foods Inc. is a leading Canadian food processing company. Headquartered in Toronto, Canada, the Company employs approximately 23,000 people at its operations across Canada and in the United States, United Kingdom and Asia. The Company had sales of $5.2 billion in 2007.

SOURCE: Maple Leaf Foods Inc.

Media Contact: Rick Young, President, Maple Leaf Consumer Foods, (204) 235-8323;
Investor Contact: Lynda Kuhn, SVP Communications, (416) 926-7031