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Maple Leaf Foods to buy meatless foods producer

Canadian food company paying US$140 million for Lightlife Foods

Maple Leaf Foods announced it would acquire an American company that makes plant-based protein foods for US$140 million and any related costs.

Maple Leaf said it had signed a definitive agreement to buy Lightlife Foods, which makes vegetarian deli meats, chicken, beef, sausages and other meatless foods.

President and CEO Michael McCain said in a statement that consumers are looking for alternative protein sources and this growing market is one of Maple Leaf's strategic growth platforms.

Lightlife's management will continue to run the Turners Falls, Mass.-headquartered company, which will operate as a subsidiary of Maple Leaf.

The deal is subject to a U.S. regulatory review and is expected to close in March.

The Toronto-area food processing company also reported its quarterly profit more than doubled as margins in its prepared meats business improved.

Net income rose to $76.2 million from $33.3 million a year earlier. Adjusted operating earnings were up less dramatically than net income -- rising 33.3% to $63.7 million from $47.8 million.

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