- Continue to expand our leadership in Raised Without Antibiotics (RWA) pork in North America and in RWA poultry in Canada
- Continue to execute the commitments of our Food Manifesto for our Maple Leaf® brand and be leaders of the real food movement
- Accelerate research and development efforts against a pipeline of innovation that advances our commitment to better food
- Enhance and streamline our Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS) processes
- Launch our Allergen Control Program
- Expanded our Raised Without Antibiotics (RWA) program to our Prime® brand in Western Canada
- Launched our Prime® Organic brand
- Continued expanding our leadership in plant-based protein
- Exceeded our Food Safety Incident Rate (FSIR) target by 53% and Quality Incident Rate (QIR) target by 15%
- Began rolling out our world-class Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) training program to all plants
- Revamped our Allergen Control Program
Our Journey Towards Better Food
In 2018, we executed on our strategy to make better food that meets real consumer needs, as reflected in the product renovation of our Maple Leaf®, Schneiders and Swift brands. This strategy, developed in 2017 after exhaustive consumer research, resulted in an initiative to renovate our prepared meats portfolio across multiple dimensions, including taste, nutrition, affordability and sustainability.
We launched the most comprehensive changes in our Maple Leaf® brand history as part of our commitment to lead the real food movement. This has involved a sweeping revamp of the entire portfolio based on the commitments of our Food Manifesto.
Being leaders in the real food movement, leaders in authentic craftsmanship and leaders in great value – all by delivering clear food and brand choices: this is what making great food means to us. We have reformulated our products to include only premium meat and real, simple or natural ingredients. In addition to removing artificial preservatives, flavours, colours and sweeteners from our products, we only use pronounceable ingredients that consumers trust and can find in their pantry.
Read the Maple Leaf Food Manifesto.
We launched the most comprehensive changes in our Maple Leaf® brand’s history, taking out the ingredients you don’t know or don’t want and replacing them with natural, real or simple ingredients. Read the Maple Leaf Food Manifesto.
Simple and Natural Ingredients
In response to consumer demand for healthier prepared meats products that are made with simpler, natural ingredients, we renovated our Maple Leaf® brand products back in 2018 and reformulated them with ingredients that deliver the highest standard of nutrition, great taste and simplicity with nothing artificial.
Mechanically separated chicken, pork, water, modified corn starch, salt, potassium lactate, dextrose, wheat gluten, spice, corn syrup solids, sodium phosphate, sodium diacetate, sodium erythorbate, garlic powder, onion powder, sodium nitrite, smoke.
Chicken, pork, water, tapioca starch, sea salt, spice, vinegar, cultured celery extract, cane sugar, cherry powder, smoke.
Knowing the right amount of which foods to eat each day and understanding how to read food labels are important to ensure a healthy lifestyle. To help Canadians make informed food choices, we are focusing on three priorities:
1. Easier-to-read labels
To help our consumers make informed food choices, we are simplifying and increasing the readability of our packaging. Maple Leaf® labels are now simpler and easier to read and have a consistent style across all product lines. Consumers are able to compare nutritional information between Maple Leaf products more quickly and easily.
As part of our Schneiders® brand refresh in 2018, which included an updated logo and packaging design, we renovated its product portfolio to offer consumers extraordinary taste with elevated artisanal flavours and new distinct packaging with easier-to-read labels.
2. Focus on the facts
We partnered with Health Canada, Retail Council of Canada, Food and Consumer Products of Canada, Canadian Federation of Independent Grocers and several leading food and beverage companies to launch the “Focus on the Facts” nutrition labeling education initiative. The goal is to help Canadians understand and use the Nutrition Facts table on packaged foods, with a focus on “Serving Size” and “Percent Daily Value.”
3. Better nutrition information at your fingertips
Under the direction of an independent dietitian, our Maple Leaf® brand website provides better, more engaging content to help people access nutritional information and plan their diets based on their needs.
One of our blueprint strategies is to broaden our reach into protein alternatives. In the past few years, we established Maple Leaf Foods as a North American leader in plant-based proteins by forming Greenleaf Foods, SPC, a wholly owned subsidiary based in Chicago. We have two leading, highly complementary brands in this category, Lightlife™ and Field Roast Grain Meat Co.™, and we are building leadership in this space by increasing organizational and operational capacity and our pace of innovation.
Lightlife provides quality vegetarian and vegan foods prepared in the most healthy and sustainable manner. Meanwhile, Field Roast Grain Meat Co., based in Seattle, Washington, adapts traditional meat-making practices to craft vegetarian “meats” made from grains, vegetables and spices. Both brands have been answering consumer demand for plant-based products and have been bringing forward new, innovative products to grocery stores and restaurants in Canada and the United States.
Greenfield Natural Meat Co.™
A key part of shared value at Maple Leaf Foods is to drive change through shifting our investments, operations and marketing strategies to support leadership in sustainability. Greenfield Natural Meat Co.™ is our leading sustainable meat brand, but it is more than a brand. Greenfield is more of “a company within a company.”
The Canadian population is becoming increasingly diverse. At Maple Leaf Foods, we are committed to providing consumers with a variety of wholesome and high-quality halal food under our Mina® brand.
What Innovation Means to Us
Exploring Food Innovations
In May 2019, we launched Maple Leaf Prime® Organic, which represents the pinnacle of fresh chicken products in Canada.
- Certified organic
- Non-GMO feed
- Raised without antibiotics
- Vegetable, grain fed with no animal by-products
- Humanely raised on Canadian farms
In September 2019, we expanded our Raised Without Antibiotics program to our Maple Leaf Prime® products in Western Canada.
- Raised without antibiotics
- Vegetable, grain fed with no animal by-products
- Humanely raised on Canadian farms
In April 2020, we launched a Maple Leaf® 50/50 beef and plant-based burger for consumers who love meat, but are consciously making an effort to eat less of it.
- Made with 50% less meat and natural, plant-based ingredients
- Zero taste compromise
- Gluten free
- Recyclable packaging
ThinkFOOD! Innovation Centre
Our ThinkFOOD! Innovation Centre, located at our Meadowvale campus in Mississauga, Ontario, is dedicated to research and exploration for new product development. The Innovation Centre offers collaborative spaces, laboratories, a pilot food processing plant, sensory testing rooms and multiple kitchens. In our largest open kitchen, we have around 30 employees collaborating and experimenting with new flavours and ingredients to craft authentic foods.
Products that we create go through a rigorous sensory evaluation to help us identify those of the highest quality. Our all-white sensory testing room was designed to minimize sensory distractions and ensure an objective experience. Our food testers objectively analyze several factors to ensure we are developing products that taste, smell and look delicious. The products that successfully pass the sensory evaluation are moved into our “Pilot Plant” where we assess the replicability of the products at a larger scale.
Our ThinkFOOD! Innovation Centre boasts a “Kitchen Stage” and a “Back-of-House Kitchen.” Kitchen Stage is a presentation room and simulated restaurant to host our customers and clients. Experienced chefs prepare and serve meals using our products in an open-concept kitchen and dining area. Our Back-of-House Kitchen enables customers and clients to use our equipment or bring in their own equipment to train employees and practice preparing meals.
Our Food Safety Commitment
Food Safety Recalls
In 2019, Maple Leaf Foods had zero food safety recalls and two quality-related product withdrawals, a result of products that did not meet Maple Leaf Foods standards.
Our Global Food Safety Standards
We adhere to the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) benchmarked standards across Maple Leaf Foods. All of our meat production facilities are audited annually by an internal food safety audit function and a third-party auditor following either the Brand Reputation through Compliance (BRC) or Safe Quality Food (SQF) standards, both of which are recognized by the GFSI. All of our fresh and prepared meats facilities adhere to these standards.
Our plant-based protein business in the U.S. is either certified to the BRC Global Standard for Food Safety or on the certification journey.
We continuously monitor the effectiveness of our efforts through aggressive testing of our manufacturing environment and our products. In 2019, we conducted more than 211,000 tests to measure quality and detect microorganisms, including pathogens, in our food processing facilities and products. We also regularly swab, test and sanitize all of our meat production areas, including manufacturing equipment, floors, walls and all surface areas for the presence of Listeria.
Our Accredited Laboratories
Maple Leaf Foods has three accredited laboratories that perform several types of testing to maximize our food quality and safety and minimize health risks. Maple Leaf Foods’ accredited laboratories are ISO/IEC 17025 accredited with Standards Council of Canada. Our laboratories use advanced techniques and equipment to provide food safety risk assessments, investigative testing, method development and validation. Plus, our laboratory staff are trained and experienced in chemical and microbiological qualitative and quantitative analysis in food and food processing environments.
Five-Year Food Safety Strategy
We have mapped out a five-year strategy for food safety and quality with an overarching goal of relentlessly pursuing a world-class food safety and quality culture. This strategy represents the evolution of our Food Safety Promise and the commitments we made in 2009, which are embodied in our vision, “To always produce safe, great tasting food, produced in a safe work environment.”
Food Safety, Quality, Metrics and Transparency
The value of measurement, reporting and transparency cannot be understated. In 2017, Maple Leaf Foods launched a new paradigm for food safety and quality metrics that we believe will guide improved performance in our operations for years to come.
As part of this effort, we established the Food Safety Incident Rate (FSIR) and the Quality Incident Rate (QIR). These two indexed values are calculated each month for every production site based upon well-defined Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). For FSIR, we measure recalls, near misses, pathogen failures, repeat non-conformance on internal audit, regulatory non-conformance and consumer complaints for food safety–related issues. Similarly, the QIR metric has two KPIs: recalls and withdrawals for quality, and consumer complaints for quality.
The KPIs for each metric are used in a formula that generates the FSIR and QIR values on a monthly basis. Each month, plants across the enterprise are ranked by FSIR and QIR, and a review is held with the plant leadership group and senior management team, including the CEO, to discuss successes and failures.
2018 was the first full year of implementation. We used the prior year as a baseline and established a three-year goal to reduce FSIR and QIR by 75%. We are pleased to report that our food safety and operational teams executed effective plans that achieved the 2019 targets. Both FSIR and QIR came in below 2019 targets. We exceeded our FSIR target by 53% and QIR target by 15%. These results are a reflection of dedication and commitment to our Food Safety Promise from the manufacturing facilities.
Sanitation Strategy and Performance Metrics
Sanitation is a foundational and critical part of our food safety strategy. At Maple Leaf Foods, sanitation has always been an important part of our Environmental Monitoring program. In 2019, we did a complete overhaul of our Sanitation Strategy and incorporated our learnings and industry best practices.
There are an estimated four million cases of foodborne illness in Canada every year. We are committed to reducing that risk to the lowest level possible through our food safety strategies and by empowering consumers with information to handle and prepare our products with confidence, so they are safe when served.
Salmonella Reduction Strategy in Fresh Poultry
Salmonella is a common pathogen on raw agricultural commodities, and fresh poultry is no exception. Maple Leaf Foods has always had a forward-looking approach to monitoring and mitigating the presence of Salmonella in our fresh poultry operations, and in 2019 we made major strides with our best-in-class, comprehensive plan for surveillance and reduction in the end-to-end supply chain.