Maple Leaf launches meat loaf product

In a move indicative of its strategy of pursuing market segments outside its core business of wieners, bacon and sliced meats, Maple Leaf Meats is launching a ready-to-cook, frozen meat loaf.The product, which the Toronto-based company is in the midst of...

In a move indicative of its strategy of pursuing market segments outside its core business of wieners, bacon and sliced meats, Maple Leaf Meats is launching a ready-to-cook, frozen meat loaf.

The product, which the Toronto-based company is in the midst of presenting to grocery stores across the country, is packaged in 750-gram servings that feed four and take about 50 minutes to cook.

Edward Bubulis, group brand manager for Maple Leaf, says that as far as he has been able to determine, the frozen meat loaf product, which sells for $4.99, is the only one of its kind on the market.

Bubulis says the closest competition comes in the form of fresh meat loaf slices sold in grocery store delis.

So far, at least three grocery store banners, iga, Food City and Knechtel, all of which are owned by Oshawa Food Group, have agreed to carry the product.

And Bubulis says two other major food distributors, a&p and National Grocers, owners of the Loblaw banner, are ‘warm’ prospects.

He says Maple Leaf is exploring a host of niche market segments beyond its traditional areas of business.

Other products in development include pre-cooked, hot sandwich meats packaged in flavored sauces, and chopped ham and back bacon pieces for use in soups and omelettes.

The company is also developing a line of fresh, deli-style sandwiches that will be sold in grocery stores and positioned as an alternative to fast-food lunches.

‘We find there are many opportunities for us outside our core markets,’ Bubulis says. ‘This is the beginning of a number of things we want to look at.’

Bubulis says the meat loaf will not be placed in the frozen section since it is not a pre-cooked product.

Rather, he says it will be located in the meat section, where it will compete against the fresh meats shoppers buy to make meat loaf at home.

The meat loaf comes in three varieties – Traditional-style Pork Meat Loaf, Italian-style Pork Meat Loaf and WiseChoice Turkey Meat Loaf.

Maple Leaf is devising a merchandising unit to be used in a market test of its proposed line of deli sandwiches, which have a shelf-life of four days.

The company is hoping grocers will make room for the 5-foot by 3-foot stand-up coolers next to their express cash registers.

The test, to be conducted in the Toronto area, is planned for the second quarter of 1995.

Bubulis says most supermarkets do not have a lunch program to compete with the restaurants and food courts found in malls.

‘Our sandwich program will give them something they can fight back with,’ he says.