MISSISSAUGA, ONTARIO- Maple Leaf Foods released its 2020 Sustainability Report featuring key initiatives, milestones and accomplishments by the meat processor last year.

“Producing food took on an even deeper meaning as our disrupted nation needed nourishment. Never have I been more grateful that Maple Leaf Foods has a robust and mature sustainability program in place focused on delivering Better Food, Better Care, Better Communities and a Better Planet,” said Michael McCain, president and chief executive officer. “Together, these sustainability commitments have been like a compass guiding us in our response to 2020’s remarkable events, keeping us focused on the vision and values that make us Maple Leaf Foods.”

The company stated that four area of its business, Better Food, Better Care, Better Communities and a Better Planet, would be emphasized in sustainability going forward.

Under Better Food, Maple Leaf said it continues to reduce artificial ingredients, antibiotic use, and it will continue to advance food safety. During the last year, its Raised Without Antibiotics (RWA) Greenfield portfolio included Family Lunch Kits, introduced the Prime Organic brand and launched filler-free Maple Leaf Natural Top Dogs. The company also discussed the growth of its meat alternative brands Lightlife Foods and Field Roast Grain Meat Co.  

In Better Care, Maple Leaf highlighted animal care program changes. By the end of 2020, the company said it transitioned 87 percent of its sow spaces to its Advanced Open Sow Housing system and installed environmental enrichments such as non-destructible toys in all Advanced Open Sow Housing, nursery, and growing pig barns. Five additional climate-controlled poultry trailers were added to its Alberta fleet and it introduced SafeFlight real-time poultry digital trailer environmental monitoring across its Alberta operations and expanded implementation in its Ontario operations. To monitor and continuously improve care provided to animals, the company implemented Remote Video Auditing (RVA) in 100% of its hatcheries and processing plants.

For its Better Communities section, the meat producer worked on the issue of food insecurity with various groups. It also donated more than $2M to support emergency food access and contributed over $2.5M worth of healthful products to organizations supporting those in need, a 67% increase from 2019. 

Worker safety numbers were also reported which included a Total Recordable Incidence Rate of 0.48 and Days Away, Restricted or Transferred Rate of 0.24. Thirty-two Maple Leaf Foods sites had zero lost time injuries and 23 of those sites were proud members of the company’s Zero Hero Safety Club. 

A Diversity and Inclusion Blueprint was also laid out in 2020 which Maple Leaf said outlined comprehensive systemic and cultural barriers and provided an environment of equal opportunity. According to company data provided in 2020, 38% of manager and 32% of directors were women. Mental Health training was also delivered to 88% of people leaders at the company.  

Finally, under Better Plant, Maple Leaf laid out its environmental goals and targets in the future. By the end of 2020, the company had reduced the intensity of its environmental footprint by 25.9% for electricity, 19.5% for natural gas, 21.6% for water (2014 baseline); 12.1% for solid waste (2015 baseline) and 30.9% for food loss waste (2016 baseline). It also diverted 91.6% of waste that would ordinarily go to landfills. 

Maple Leaf also became part of a sustainability-linked loan in Canada, which is a partnership with nine global banks where the company will benefit from lower interest rates upon achievement of certain sustainability targets and maintaining its carbon neutral status. The company also established an internal ‘price on carbon’ that provides input into all capital decisions and a carbon calculator tool to factor the carbon cost into all capital expenditure requests and return on net asset calculations.