Maple Leaf Foods reported net earnings of CA$17.5 million (US$13.1 million) for the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2019, an increase of 46.1%.

Meanwhile, the Canadian protein company reported net earnings of CA$74.6 million (US$55.9 million) for the full year.

Maple Leaf Foods on February 27 released its financial results for the periods ending December 31, 2019.

"Our teams delivered on our strategic, operational and financial priorities in the fourth quarter," said Michael H. McCain, president and CEO of Maple Leaf Foods. "In meat protein, we continue to see the results of our brand renovation strategy and focus on sustainable meats. Despite an extremely challenging and volatile year in meat protein due to global trade issues and the impact of African swine fever (ASF), we delivered adjusted EBITDA margin expansion in the quarter and year in this segment.

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"We are seeing our disciplined investments in advertising and marketing take hold in plant protein, which combined with continued product innovation and broader distribution points, resulted in strong growth in the fourth quarter. We expect this momentum to continue as these strategies unfold."

Sales for the fourth quarter increased 13.7% to CA$1.02 billion (US$760 million), compared to CA$893.9 million (US$669.25 million) last year, which was an increase of 10.4% after adjusting for acquisitions. For the full year, sales were reported at CA$3.94 billion (US$2.95 billion) compared to CA$3.5 billion (US$2.62 billion) last year, an increase of 12.8%. Sales growth was driven by meat protein, tied to higher meat values, favorable mix and volume supported by food renovation and growth in sustainable meats, coupled with accelerated growth in plant protein, the company stated.

During the past quarter, Maple Leaf Foods became the first major food company in the world to become carbon neutral, secured a sustainability-linked credit facility in Canada, and named Geert Verellen as its chief financial officer.