Maple Leaf Foods is Canada’s largest food processor and leader in consumer protein. The company sold its bakery and rendering business and reorganized into a focused protein company in 2017.

The company operates in Canada, the United States, and Asia through well-known brands such as Maple Leaf, Maple Leaf Prime, Maple Leaf Natural Selections, Schneiders, Swift, etc. Maple Leaf operates 31 prepared meat, fresh pork, and fresh meat poultry and vegetable protein manufacturing facilities.

As a leading manufacturer of meat products, Maple Leaf focuses on a product portfolio that combines antibiotic-free products, a fresh poultry network and vegetable protein. The company is known for its quality products and is trusted by its customers around the world.

Maple Leaf’s portfolio of brands meets a wide range of consumer needs, from natural and simple foods with no artificial properties to exquisite foods with unique flavors. It works in two segments – meat protein and vegetable protein. Meat protein is the larger segment, accounting for 95% of total sales.

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Sales growth and market exposure

With a 100 year history, Maple Leaf has developed a deep understanding of changing consumer tastes and preferences. It is aimed at retail, gastronomy, industry and agriculture.

The company sells a wide range of prepared meats, ready-to-cook and ready-to-serve dishes, fresh value added pork, poultry and plant-based protein products, premium grain-based protein and vegan cheese products. Maple Leaf is the largest producer of RWA pork in North America and poultry in Canada.

Today’s consumers want easier, more natural, and less processed food choices. Maple Leaf’s meat and vegetable protein business is highly profitable and generating money.

Although the food industry is an essential service, Maple Leaf saw changes such as the channel shift (groceries at home) shift, the rapid adoption of e-commerce, and increased interest in vegetable protein interest during the pandemic. The company also became the world’s first major climate-neutral food company and is poised to capitalize on its sustainability leadership.

Maple Leaf’s brands, innovation capacity and supply chain expertise are the huge competitive advantages. The company repositioned its portfolio into two high-growth categories that account for 20% of annual sales and are now growing at a 3-year CAGR of 25% +.

The company posted sales growth of 9% last year. The sales growth in Maple Leaf’s meat protein group was driven by a favorable mix shift towards sustainable meat and branded products, growth in exports to Asian markets, and pricing action. The company continues to aggressively invest in the growth capacity of its poultry business and in the plant protein business.

Maple Leaf expects mid to high single digit sales growth in the meat protein group and in the plant protein group, in line with its target of 30% for the coming year.


Maple Leaf has maintained its track record of steady dividend growth. It has a dividend growth rate of 29% CAGR over the past five years. Maple Leaf is a Canadian dividend aristocrat. The company recently increased its dividend by more than 10% and achieved an annual return of 2.5%.

Maple Leaf has a payout ratio of 79%. For each of the years 2015 through 2020, Maple Leaf completed NCIBs and repurchased shares. The current NCIB program allows the repurchase of 7.5 million shares through May 2021.

Maple Leaf is a money-generating company and can conveniently support the investments required. Even in times of higher raw material prices, the company has consistently achieved a strong base cash flow.

Maple Leaf estimates that the vegetable protein category in North America will grow to at least $ 25 billion by 2029 and the company will reach a market share of $ 3 billion. The company’s long-term goal is 30% annual revenue growth and an underlying gross margin of 30%. The focus is on growth in categories such as sustainable meat, poultry, artisanal meat, and value-added meal sets.

Maple Leaf is a defensive consumer company with relatively recession-proof earnings. The company continues to invest in strategic initiatives such as renovating its brands, accelerating the product innovation pipeline, building existing and acquiring new relationships, and building an efficient supply chain. The Meat Protein Group is expected to grow with Adjusted EBITDA margin expansion towards the target of 14-16% by 2022 and investments in the range of $ 550-650 million.

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The consumer products industry that Maple Leaf operates in is very competitive. Maple Leaf sees intense competition in vegetable proteins as new entrants and more traditional food companies enter the space. The company exports significant quantities of its products to customers outside of Canada and could face challenges in the current global trade scenario.

Maple Leaf competes with companies such as Premium Brands Holding Corp and High Liner Foods Inc. Premium Brands Holding is one of Canada’s largest food companies, while High Liner Foods is a leading processor and marketer of frozen seafood across North America.

Bottom line

As a leader in consumer staples, Maple Leaf Foods is well positioned to capitalize on attractive opportunities in growth segments and expanding markets. Maple Leaf’s plant protein business should continue to grow given the leading market shares and brands already distributed across North America. There has been strong growth in both the meat and plant protein groups over the past year.

The company continues to focus on innovation and brand investments for future growth. Maple Leaf is rapidly building a leadership position in sustainable meat and expanding its reach in the US market. The company’s strategic initiatives should result in revenue growth and structural margin expansion.

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