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Maple Leaf Foods Q4 profit down as labour and production costs rise

Meat protein delivers top-line growth, while the company's plant-based business takes a hit

Maple Leaf Foods Inc. reported its fourth-quarter profit fell compared with a year ago as it faced rising labour and production costs.

The company says it earned $1.9 million or two cents per share for the quarter ended Dec. 31, compared with a profit of $25.4 million or 20 cents per share in the last three months of 2020.

Sales totalled $1.12 billion, down from $1.13 billion in the fourth quarter of 2020, which included an extra week. Maple Leaf says meat protein group sales amounted to nearly $1.09 billion compared with $1.08 billion a year ago, while plant protein sales fell to $45.5 million compared with $52.5 million in the fourth quarter of 2020.

On an adjusted basis, Maple Leaf says it earned nine cents per share for the quarter, down from an adjusted profit of 31 cents per share a year earlier.

Last year, Maple Leaf launched a review of its plant-based food business.

The company says the analysis so far shows a clear slowdown in the projected growth rate for the category compared with very high growth rates predicted in 2019, and it is making changes to its strategy and investment thesis for the business.

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