MISSISSAUGA, Ontario — Maple Leaf Foods Inc. and its wholly owned subsidiary Greenleaf Foods, SPC, have unveiled plans to build a $310 million plant-based protein food processing facility in Shelbyville, Indiana. Once constructed, the 230,000-square-foot facility will be the largest facility and investment of its kind in North America, Maple Leaf said. It is expected to double the company’s current production capacity.

The Shelbyville facility will make tempeh, franks, sausages and raw foods, Maple Leaf said. The Lightlife Plant-Based Burger, which was introduced earlier this year and was described by Maple Leaf as the “most significant innovation launch” in its 40-year history, also will be produced at the plant. The Lightlife Plant-Based Burger is made from pea protein, coconut oil and beet powder and has a juicy, beefy texture, according to the company.

“With Lightlife and Field Roast, we own the leading brands in the North American refrigerated plant-based protein market,” said Michael H. McCain, president and chief executive officer. “This investment will secure our ongoing leadership in this rapidly expanding market. By establishing a large-scale North American network, we will continue to meet rapidly growing demand for delicious protein alternatives and create a center of excellence for innovation. It will escalate the financial contribution of this business and advance Maple Leaf’s vision to be the most sustainable protein company on earth.”

Maple Leaf said the new facility will be supported by approximately $50 million in government and utility grants and incentives, including $9.6 million toward capital and one-time start-up costs, and approximately $40 million in 10-year operational support. The company said it expects to incur one-time start-up costs of $34 million. The investment will be funded through a combination of cash flow from operations and debt, Maple Leaf said.

Construction on the Shelbyville plant is expected to begin later this spring, with production start-up anticipated in the fourth quarter of 2020.

In addition to the new plant, Maple Leaf said it is investing approximately $26 million to keep pace with ongoing growth in demand at its existing facilities.

Overall, the expanded network is expected to deliver return on capital for shareholders in the range of 13 percent to 16 percent through 2024, the company said. By 2022, the adjusted EBITDA margin of the company’s plant-based protein network is expected to be in line with Maple Leaf’s overall EBITDA margin target of 14 percent to 16 percent.