- Continue to support our Maple Leaf Prime® Raised Without Antibiotics (RWA) lineup and RWA education
- Continue to accelerate research and development efforts against a pipeline of innovation that advances our commitment to Better Food
- Execute significant product renovation to our Lightlife Foods® and Field Roast Grain Meat Co.™ brands by delivering great tasting, 100% vegan and non-GMO certified product line
- Continue to work to ensure our raw material, ingredient and packaging suppliers achieve food safety certification to a Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) standard
- Deliver on our Food Safety Incident Rate (FSIR) and Quality Incident Rate (QIR)
- Expanded our RWA Greenfield Natural Meat Co.™ portfolio by launching Family Lunch Kits
- Demonstrated our leadership of the real food movement by launching filler-free Maple Leaf® Natural Top Dogs
- Repositioned Lightlife Foods® to represent clean, nourishing health and Field Roast Grain Meat Co.™ to represent bold, flavour-forward products
- Met and exceeded our FSIR target by 41% and QIR target by 63%
- Completed three waves of Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) training at all plants
- Launched an enhanced 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® and Schneiders® 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.
This includes the most comprehensive changes in our Maple Leaf® brand’s history, by taking out the ingredients you don’t know or that don't belong in our food, and replacing them with natural, real or simple ingredients that are recognizable by consumers. To learn more, 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® branded products back in 2018 and reformulated them with ingredients that deliver the high-quality protein, great taste and real food 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, sea salt, vinegar, spice, cultured celery extract, cherry powder, cane sugar, smoke.
See the full list of Maple Leaf® ingredient changes.
Knowing the right amount of which foods to eat each day and understanding how to read food labels is 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 legibility 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. On our Maple Leaf Natural Selections® products, our list of ingredients is actually included on the front of the package, making it easier for consumers to locate, reinforcing that we have no ingredients to hide.
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 labelling education initiative. The goal is to help Canadians understand and use the Nutrition Facts table (NFT) on prepared foods, with a focus on “Serving Size” and “Percent Daily Value.”
In 2020, Maple Leaf began to adopt the updated NFT set forth by Health Canada’s Food Labelling Modernization initiative. This initiative is meant to modernize and improve food labelling in Canada, reflect the latest eating habits of Canadians and enable Canadians to make more informed choices. It includes “% daily value,” food colour declarations, an updated list of minerals (e.g., potassium) to reflect public health concerns and more prominent sugar callouts on our labels.
3. Better nutrition information at your fingertips
All of our brand websites provide better, more engaging content to help people access nutritional information and plan their diets based on their needs. Visit Maple Leaf®, Greenfield Natural Meat Co.™ or Schneiders® for more information.
Carbon Zero Logo
In 2020, Maple Leaf Foods introduced a new Carbon Zero - Made by a Carbon Neutral Company logo on the packaging of many of its leading brands including Maple Leaf®, Greenfield Natural Meat Co.™, Lightlife Foods® and Field Roast Grain Meat Co.™ Consumers can look for the Carbon Zero logo on the front of product packaging to feel confident they are making a sustainable choice and are supporting a carbon neutral company.
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 Foods® 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 Foods® 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.
In 2020, we conducted the most comprehensive research study in plant-based protein history, connecting with more than 11,500 consumers to better understand their values and expectations for plant-based protein. This set Greenleaf Foods on the journey to nourish a global population in a better, more sustainable and more affordable way. This began by repositioning our brands: Lightlife™ to represent clean, nourishing health and Field Roast™ to represent bold, flavor-forward products.
In 2021, both brands will undergo significant product design and packaging renovations reflecting the revised brand mandates. The expected outcome will be that all Lightlife™ and Field Roast™ products will be 100% vegan certified and Non-GMO Project verified. Following our sustainability vision, both brands will continue to look at diversification of plant-protein choices. Our commitment to better food is the firm belief that the future of protein is cleaner, tastier and nutritionally superior.
Greenfield Natural Meat Co.™
Greenfield Natural Meat Co.™ was founded in 2015 with a goal to make sustainable meat attainable. Greenfield is a disruptor – a brand that advances sustainable meat production through leadership in animal care and the elimination of antibiotic usage in animal production and sourcing. We do not use artificial ingredients or preservatives in our products, and all sows in our care are Gestation Crate Free (GCF) so that they are free to roam, play and socialize. Greenfield products also come from animals that are 100% vegetarian grain fed and humanely raised by caring Canadian farmers.
It is a meat brand with a purpose. It exists to make a better world by making meat right, which means better food, better care for our animals, better communities and a better planet.
In 2020, Greenfield proudly introduced three bold new claims to continue the advancement of our commitment to sustainability:
Gestation Crate Free. We are committed to humanely raising our animals – which is why we are now GCF, meaning we use an open-pen system for our sows during their gestation phase.
Carbon Zero. Greenfield is made by a carbon neutral company and has a Carbon Zero logo on the front of product packaging so that consumers know they are making a sustainable choice.
GreenCircle Certified. Greenfield is working with GreenCircle Certified, an independent third party that audits all of our claims to ensure our standards never settle.
Greenfield is on a mission to change the meat industry and reflects the very best of what Maple Leaf Foods is doing to advance leadership in sustainability, raising the high bar that we have set even higher. Our investment and focus on sustainability will continue to be reflected in what the Greenfield brand brings to the market. Visit greenfieldmeat.com to learn more.
99% of our products under the Mina® brand have no artificial colours and flavours.
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. When it comes to processing all Mina® products, we strictly adhere to the food production requirements certified by the Halal Monitoring Authority (HMA).
Mina® products are made with the finest quality chicken or beef and are individually blessed and hand slaughtered. This is a differentiating point for Mina® and our competitors who machine slaughter. In addition, our fresh chicken products are air chilled for the highest quality.
We are also focused on providing our consumers with even more convenient halal options, including ready-to-eat meals and protein snacks. We continue to expand our Mina® product line to meet the growing demand for hand-slaughtered, ready-to-eat halal products such as: chicken tikka bites, falafel, tandoori chicken burgers and jalapeño beef burgers.
What Innovation Means to Us
Exploring Food Innovations
In 2020, we launched our Maple Leaf Prepped and Ready product line-up, including shredded chicken, ground beef, diced ham and more. These products are:
- Fully prepared, and can be cooked and ready to eat or reheat and added to family-favourite recipes
- Made with natural, simple ingredients
- Uniquely packaged in a fully recyclable cardboard tray
In 2020, we introduced our Schneiders Protein Kits - a premium, on-the-go snack kit with up to 13 grams of protein. These kits are:
- Maple Leaf Foods' expansion into the vastly growing nut-based protein snacks
- Portable, high protein snacks that are easy to take on the go or eat conveniently at home
- Packed with delicious, premium artisanal meats, cheeses and nuts/dried fruit for indulgence
In 2020, we launched our Greenfield Lunch Kits. These kits are:
- Made by a Gestation Crate Free company with a commitment to humanely raise its animals
- Carbon Zero - Made by a Carbon Neutral Company
- GreenCircle Certified to verify all our claims and ensure our standards never settle
- Made from animals raised without antibiotics
In 2020, Lightlife™ introduced Organic Buffalo Tempeh Strips - to add a little spice to your dish. These strips are:
- A hearty meat alternative that’s savoury, nutty and packed with 18 grams of protein and fibre
- Deliciously guilt-free and perfect for baking, frying or sautéing
- Made with ingredients that you know and a taste you’ll love
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
Maple Leaf Foods Food Safety and Quality Management System
We have a robust and thorough Food Safety and Quality Management system that includes policies, company standards and standard operating procedures. Documents are housed in one document repository, with formal workflows, approvals, defined roles and responsibilities, and an established document review cycle is in place.
Food Safety Recalls and Market Bans
In 2020, 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. Corrective and preventative actions were successfully executed on the two quality-related product withdrawals. Our formal and robust recall standard operating procedure is updated annually with key learnings and clear roles and responsibilities. Maple Leaf Foods did not have any food safety or quality-related market bans in 2020.
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 2020, we conducted more than 145,000 tests to measure quality and safety, including the detection of allergens, microorganisms and pathogens. We regularly swab, test and sanitize all our production areas, including manufacturing equipment, as a preventative measure to maintain the quality of our products.
Leadership and Collaboration
Our Food Safety, Quality and Technical team members continue to actively participate in committees, task forces and workshops (virtually during the COVID-19 pandemic) throughout North America and globally. We are represented on the food safety and regulatory committees of the Canadian Meat Council, the North American Meat Institute, the Canadian Poultry and Egg Processors Council and the National Chicken Council (U.S.).
We are part of the core team of instructors at the bi-annual Advanced Listeria Control Workshop, sponsored by the North American Meat Institute. We also have representation on the Research Advisory Committee of the Foundation for Meat and Poultry Research. We have been a Sustaining Member of the International Association for Food Protection (the leading global food safety professional organization) for the past eight years as well as a Sustaining Partner of the American Meat Science Association, which has a mission to improve food safety through scientific advancements. We are part of the GFSI Auditor Training and Professional Development Committee and we are members of the Food Allergy Research and Resource Program (FARRP) and Food Allergy Canada. We are also active participants with Import-Export Canada and Plant-Based Foods of Canada.
Since 2019, we have partnered with the U.S.-based Alliance to Stop Foodborne Illness (STOP). Maple Leaf Foods has recently developed a teaching video to communicate a compelling personal story of a family who has survived a serious foodborne illness, to make clear why food safety must be a central value of the food system and to be used by STOP Alliance members.
Our Accredited Laboratories
Maple Leaf Foods has four accredited laboratories that perform analytical 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 updated our five-year strategy for food safety and quality with an overarching goal of relentlessly pursuing a world-class food safety and quality culture. Our 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.” Updates in 2020 have focused on support of Health, Safety, Security and Environment (HSSE) and Food Safety safeguards at our plants during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The strategy is put into action through the engagement of all Maple Leaf Foods employees and through a variety of initiatives, including:
- Ensuring food safety training for our people
- Strong industry-leading food safety and quality performance metrics that ensure accountability through transparency
- Pursuit of a preventative approach to continuous improvement
- Investment and continued support of our ambitious Salmonella Reduction Strategy in the poultry supply chain
- Enhancing preventative controls through improved Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) plans and expanded training and certification of associates
- Relentless efforts to enhance and improve our already world-class Listeria Monitoring Program
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.
The first three years of the program were very successful, and tweaks were made in 2020 to drive further improvements. We are pleased to report that our food safety and operational teams executed effective plans that achieved our 2020 targets. We met and exceeded our FSIR target by 41% and QIR target by 63%. These results are a reflection of the 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. Our sanitation strategy deployment began by completing a plant current-state assessment across the network, prioritized by identifying plants with food safety risks and plants recently acquired. Responding to COVID-19, disinfection protocols were developed and implemented in plant welfare areas to assure a safe employee workplace.
At the end of the first year, the Sanitation Incident Reporting (SIR) performance metric met and exceeded the plant network target by 19%. The partnership between Corporate Asset Reliability and Corporate Sanitation created an Equipment Water Damage report to address equipment damage caused by water. A plan has been developed to address the critical issues. The strategic goal is to achieve sanitation execution excellence while preserving our assets.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
In 2020, Maple Leaf Foods continued to commit resources to its fresh poultry pathogen reduction efforts by focusing its efforts on Salmonella monitoring, developing and executing mitigation strategies along the entire end-to-end fresh poultry supply chain.
Properly cooking fresh poultry kills Salmonella, but our path forward is to first focus on pathogen reduction. Our multi-year strategy will result in a reduction in the prevalence, load and the likelihood of the presence of the most pathogenic Salmonella stereotypes: those most commonly associated with human illness. In 2020, we continued to learn from our interventions, results and metrics that span our entire supply chain (from breeders to hatchery broiler farms and processing plants). The strategy continues to drive the implementation of best-in-class management practices, proven intervention techniques and practical steps in processing that will reduce risk. As in previous years, we also continued to share our results and our learnings with industry peers and government authorities with the goal of raising the bar on this very important food safety challenge. Data from the Public Health Agency of Canada continues to show our Salmonella results are well below industry levels.