MISSISSAUGA, ONTARIO –  Driven by strong performances in its meat groups, sales and net earnings increased for Maple Leaf Foods Inc. during its first fiscal quarter ended March 31, 2021.

Net earnings for the quarter were C$47.7 million compared to a loss of $3.7 million in 2020. Adjusted operating earnings were C$50.4 million, compared to C$45.1 million in 2020, an 11.6% increase.

Sales during the first quarter were C$1.05 billion, up 3% from $1.02 billion last year during the same period.

“Maple Leaf remains committed to delivering shared value, and to building an enduring company, with a vision to be the most sustainable protein company on earth,” said Michael H. McCain, president and chief executive officer. “We continue to deliver on our commitments. As we cross the one-year mark of the COVID-19 pandemic, I continue to be inspired by our dedicated front-line team members who come into work each day to produce the food we all need to stay healthy. Our number one priority is to keep our people healthy during this global crisis, and beyond.”

Meat protein group sales were up 3.3% to C$1.01 billion while plant protein sales declined to 8.1%. Although plant protein was down, Maple Leaf sees sales growth for the year in plant protein to hit a strategic target of 30%.

In the meat protein group, adjusted EBITDA margin expansion continues toward the 2022 target set by Maple Leaf of 14% to 16%. That number is driven by mix-shift benefits in prepared meats resulting from growth in sustainable meats and brand renovation as well as operational efficiencies and pork complex condition in line with the 5-year average.

“This outlook incorporates the impact of an unexpected surge in grain and hog price inflation, which should moderately compress margins in the second quarter before fully recovering in the back half of the year as related pricing action takes effect,” the company said in its earnings statement.

Maple Leaf Foods’ Meat Protein Group comprises prepared meats, ready-to-cook and ready-to-serve meals, value-added fresh pork and poultry products sold to retail, foodservice and industrial channels, and agricultural operations in pork and poultry. Maple Leaf, Maple Leaf Prime, Schneiders, Mina, Greenfield Natural Meat Co., Swift and many of the company’s regional brands fall under the Meat Protein Group.