Word Is…

...The reason the Bay is having such a tough time finding a backside to fill its VP of marketing chair is not because the position hasn't been offered to a number of qualified candidates - it has. No, sources say, it's...

…The reason the Bay is having such a tough time finding a backside to fill its VP of marketing chair is not because the position hasn’t been offered to a number of qualified candidates – it has. No, sources say, it’s not a dearth of qualified people that’s slowing down the hiring process, but rather Hudson’s Bay president Marc Chouinard’s autocratic management style. Shrinking violets need not apply.

…It’s no coincidence that the TV campaign for Levi Strauss & Co. (Canada) currently airing across Canada is reminiscent of the corny Planet of the Apes movies. It seems the spots didn’t always feature mutant cats as the villains in the commercial’s post-apocalyptic scenario. Apparently, apes were originally cast in the role, but concerns over trademark infringement prompted the company to make a switch.

…Tongue-in-cheek ads for E*Trade set to run in the April 1 edition of The Globe and Mail and the National Post were pulled at the last moment when the client’s legal poodles balked at the creative concept. The ads said the company was pulling the plug on its online discount brokerage business because Canada’s mega-banks and expensive stockbrokers were doing too good a job for their clients. The ads directed people to a Web site that explained the joke.

Meat and plant-based sales are both strong at Maple Leaf

Both priority areas performed well in the company's full-year results, helped by a boost in marketing for new products.
Maples Leaf All Natural 4

Maple Leaf Foods reported higher Q4 and full-year 2020 sales, driven by its sustainable meats and plant-based proteins. 

The CPG co. reported quarterly sales of $1.13 billion, up from $1.02 billion for Q4 2019, as well as net earnings of $25.4 million, compared to $17.5 million for the same period the year prior (an increase of 45.2%).

For full fiscal 2020, the company reported a total increase of 9.2% in sales, driven by what it says is “strong growth in both the meat and plant protein groups.”

“We have repositioned our portfolio towards two high-growth categories now representing 20% of our annual sales generating a compounded growth rate in excess of 25% over the last three years,” says Michael McCain, the company’s president and CEO.

Meat protein group sales  comprised of prepared meats, ready-to-cook and ready-to-serve meals, snack kits, value-added fresh pork and poultry products that are sold to retail, foodservice and industrial channels, and agricultural operations  grew 11.3% for the quarter. 

Meanwhile, sales of plant protein products  refrigerated plant protein brands such as Lightlife and Field Roast, premium grain-based protein, and vegan cheese products sold to retail, foodservice and industrial channels  was up 5.5% over the same period. 

Sales growth for its meat portfolio was driven by “a favourable mix-shift towards sustainable meats and branded products,” but also growth in exports to Asian markets, and pricing actions implemented to mitigate inflation and other structural cost increases, according to the company. Strong demand in the retail channel was offset by lower volume in foodservice as a result of COVID-19.

For its plant-based offerings, sales for 2020 were $210.8 million compared to $176.4 million last year, representing a growth of 19.5%, or 18.1% after excluding the impacts of foreign exchange. The segment was driven by expanded distribution of new products, continued volume increases in its existing portfolio, and pricing actions implemented to mitigate inflation and other structural cost increases.

SG&A expenses totalled $144 million for the plant group alone in 2020, with investments focused on advertising, promotion and marketing to build awareness, as well as supporting brand renovation and new product innovation. SG&A for meat proteins were $346.6 million for the full year, and the company says it expects SG&A levels and marketing investment in 2021 to be largely in line with where they were in 2020.

The company, which in 2019 announced it had gone carbon neutral, says it’s amplifying this commitment while “focusing on eliminating waste in any resources it consumes, including food, energy, water, packaging, and time.”