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Maple Leaf rolls out Canadian-inspired line of craft meats

Line features seven flavours made with ingredients sourced from Canada

Premium products at reasonable prices for everyday consumers.

That's how Gayan Fernando, Maple Leaf's marketing director deli, describes the company's new Canadian Craft line of prepared meats.

"These products are off the charts in regards to taste and quality of ingredients," Fernando told Canadian Grocer this week.

"(Maple Leaf president and CEO) Michael McCain says they are the best products he's ever tasted coming out of his company."

Launched this week across Canada, the new line comprises seven products that feature natural Canadian-sourced and -inspired ingredients, flavours and names.

The savoury seven—Atlantic Course Salt Prosciutto, Canadian Whisky and Apple Bacon, Montreal Steak Spice Capicollo, Montreal Style Smoked Meat Wieners, Okanagan Inspired Garlic & Herb Salami, Ontario Inspired Cherrywood Smoked Ham, and Quebec Maple Ham—are sold both deli and sliced for $5.99 to $6.99 per package.

According to Fernando, the high-end specialty meats are the fruit of a two-year-long effort research and development efforts.

READ: Maple Leaf moves forward with open housing for sows

They notably included sourcing authentic ingredients from Canadian suppliers, including maple syrup from sugar shacks in Quebec, and whisky from the Glenora distillery on Nova Scotia's Cape Breton Island.

"I'm a foodie and a firm believer in the potential of these quality products, which to me are beyond deli," he said.  "I mean, the ham oozes maple syrup, it's that good."

He added that, despite their quality, the new Canadian Craft products "are not premium priced, they are as competitive as our Natural Selections line. To us, this is all about getting these great items into the hands of everyday consumers."

For Sam La Bell, head of research at Veritas Investment Research Corporation, the new line is also likely intended to both shore up Maple Leaf's already dominant position in Canada's nearly $2-billion luncheon and packaged meat market, and tap into the trendy charcuterie movement.

"They are following the market, so I think this is an expanding rather than a defensive strategy," La Bell told Canadian Grocer from the firm's offices in Toronto's financial district.

Despite the 75-80% of national market share that Maple Leaf and its half-dozen brands enjoy, La Bell said they face stiff competition from imports.

"They see (the new line) as a source of differentiation in the Canadian market," he said.  "It will also help to maximize use of their new plant in Hamilton (Ontario)."

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