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Sylvain Charlebois: Maple Leaf Food’s U.S. expansion makes perfect sense — unfortunately

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Maple Leaf Foods, the largest pork processor in the country, has opted to build its new meatless plant south of the border. Unfortunately, the decision makes perfect sense.

The iconic Canadian food company recently announced plans to spend US$310 million on a 230,000-square-foot processing plant in Indiana, where its Lightlife Burger and other products will be made. It will be the largest facility of its kind in North America.

The company is clearly capitalizing on the expanding plant-based market and is hedging against several disruptive factors. But the fact that the new plant will be built in the U.S. still comes as a huge disappointment.

Maple Leaf has many reasons to look beyond meat products to build its business. For one, biosecurity issues lurk all over the world, starting with the African swine flu, which is raising havoc in Asia. Canada is one case away from seeing borders closed to many countries around the world.

The livestock industry is very fragile – the beef sector knows that too well after the mad cow crisis 15 years ago.

Certainly the demand for pork and other processed........

© Peterborough Examiner