Board Plans to Appoint Him as Chairman Following Annual Meeting TSX: MFIwww.mapleleaffoods.comTORONTO, March 29, 2012 /PRNewswire/ - Maple Leaf Foods today announced that the Honourable David L. Emerson is being nominated to join the Company's Board as an independent director and will stand for election at its Annual General Meeting on May 2, 2012. Subject to shareholder approval of the nomination, the Board intends to appoint Mr. Emerson as Chairman, replacing Purdy Crawford who will retire from the Board following the annual meeting. Mr. Emerson has extensive experience in Canada's public and private sectors. With the Government of Canada, he has served as the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Minister of International Trade, and Minister of Industry. In the private sector, Mr. Emerson was the President and CEO of Canfor Corporation, President and CEO of the Vancouver International Airport, and Chairman and CEO of Canadian Western Bank. He currently serves on the Boards of Finning International Inc., Stantec Inc. and Postmedia Networks Inc. Mr. Emerson holds a Doctorate in Economics from Queen's University. Maple Leaf Foods also announced that directors Gordon Ritchie, Chaviva Hošek and James Hankinson will not seek re-nomination at the May 2 Annual Meeting. As a result, the size of the Maple Leaf Board will decrease from 13 to 10 directors following the meeting; eight of those 10 directors will be independent. McCain Capital Corporation and West Face Capital Inc., the Company's two largest shareholders, have both indicated their support of these governance changes. "We are very pleased to nominate the Honourable David Emerson to the Maple Leaf Board," said Purdy Crawford, Chairman. "He brings extensive experience in the public and private sectors, proven leadership and new perspectives to the Board. I also want to sincerely thank Chaviva, James and Gordon for their many years of service and their significant contribution in establishing Maple Leaf as a strong and increasingly profitable company. I am honoured to have worked with this dedicated board and participate in the growth of a great business. I am confident that these changes will deliver the right balance of renewal and continuity and further strengthen corporate governance at a time of significant strategic transformation for Maple Leaf Foods." "I'm delighted to be nominated to the board of such a respected company in the path worn by Purdy Crawford, a revered Canadian," added David Emerson. For further information, shareholders may read the 2012 Management Proxy Circular, which will be available by early next week on SEDAR and under the Investor Relations menu at www.mapleleaffoods.com. Maple Leaf Foods Inc. is a leading food processing company, headquartered in Toronto, Canada. The Company employs approximately 19,500 people at its operations across Canada and in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Asia. The Company had sales of $4.9 billion in 2011. SOURCE Maple Leaf Foods Inc.