04/08/2019 11:22 EDT | Updated 04/08/2019 11:24 EDT

Maple Leaf Foods To Open Plant-Based Protein Facility In Indiana, After Announcing Canadian Job Cuts

The prominent Canadian meat producer is overhauling its facilities in Ontario, at a cost of 300 jobs.

The Canadian Press/Nathan Denette
A Maple Leaf Foods employee and a representative of the media at the company's meat facility in Toronto, Mon. Dec. 15, 2008.

MISSISSAUGA, Ont. — Maple Leaf Foods Inc. has announced plans to build a US$310-million plant-based protein food processing facility in the United States.

The company says the new plant will be in Shelbyville, Ind., as it works to expand its plant-based protein business.

It will also invest approximately US$26 million to keep pace with growth in demand at its existing facilities.

Watch: The health benefits of eating a plant-based diet. Story continues below.

The announcement comes several months after Maple Leaf announced an overhaul of its Ontario operations that will reduce employment in the province by about 300 people.

The company plans to spend $660 million on a new facility in London, Ont, that will replace three aging plants.

Company CEO Michael McCain said last month he sees a bright future for Maple Leaf in plant-based proteins.

The company launched Greenleaf Foods SPC in October, a subsidiary headquartered in Chicago that will add to Maple Leaf's plant-based food offerings.

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In January, the company launched a new pea-protein Lightlife burger, first with American food service companies. U.S. grocery stores will start to stock the product in late March, while the Canadian launch won't take place until April.

"We are really, really jazzed up about this," said McCain, saying the company seized on the rising demand of alternative proteins that look and taste like meat.

The new Indiana facility will double the company's current production capacity and produce tempeh, franks, sausages and raw foods, the company said.

Construction is expected to start in late spring this year, with production start-up expected in the fourth quarter of 2020.

Maple Leaf says it expects to employ approximately 460 people once start-up is completed.

— With earlier reporting from The Canadian Press