Alternatives Maple Leaf plans construction of production facility
At approximately 230,000 square feet, it will be the largest facility and investment of its kind in North America. The Company will also invest approximately $ 26 mill. to keep pace with ongoing growth in demand at its existing facilities. This strategic initiative will support Maple Leaf's continued growth and leadership in the rapidly expanding market for plant-based protein.
The new Shelbyville facility will be supported by approximately $ 50 mill. in government and utility grants and incentives, including $ 9.6 mill. toward capital and one-time start-up costs, and approximately $ 40 mill. in 10-year operational support. Maple Leaf expects to incur one-time start-up costs of $ 34 mill. and will fund this strategic initiative through a combination of cash flow from operations and debt.
The acquisitions of Lightlife Foods Holding Inc. in Turners Falls, Massachusetts and the Field Roast Grain Meat Company in Seattle, Washington provided Maple Leaf with the #1 and #2 brands, a diversified product portfolio and an extensive customer base for refrigerated plant-based protein. These businesses have consistently outperformed expectations and are expected to reach full capacity utilization in 2020.
Plant-based protein represent a $1 bn. North American market. Refrigerated products represent approximately 24% of the total market and delivered approximately 40% sales growth in 2018, significantly outpacing the broader category. High growth rates are expected to continue as people increasingly seek more protein in their diet and delicious options, and as innovation continues to increase product appeal and variety.
The new Shelbyville facility will be the largest and most modern of its kind in North America, solidifying Maple Leaf's leadership in the fast-growing plant-based protein market. It will double the Company's current production capacity and support a rich pipeline of innovation to meet increasing consumer demand and fuel market growth. The facility will produce tempeh, franks, sausages and raw foods. This includes the recently launched Lightlife Burger, which offers a superior product that leverages the Company's decades of culinary and market expertise. The new facility will service customers across North America, expanding and complementing the Company's existing, extensive supply chain network.
Construction on the 57-acre property is expected to start in late spring of 2019, with production start-up expected in the fourth quarter of 2020. The Company expects to employ approximately 460 people at the new facility once start-up is completed.