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photo by Andrea Gantz
on September 15, 2017

Hormel sustainability focused on water, welfare, workers

Hormel Foods published its eleventh annual corporate responsibility report.

Hormel Foods published its eleventh annual corporate responsibility report. The report is available online at and includes information related to the company’s corporate responsibility performance in fiscal year 2016.

Some of the company’s activities in 2016 included:

Surpassing its 2020 water reduction goal - In 2016, Hormel Foods implemented projects that reduced water usage by 239 million gallons.

Participation in the Ceres and World Wildlife Fund Agwater Challenge - Through this initiative, Hormel Foods will work with growers in its supply chain to reduce water usage and improve water quality.

Animal welfare audits - Hormel conducted more than 2,000 audits to ensure the accountability of its animal welfare standards and publicly announced its antibiotic stewardship efforts.

Sodium reduction and clean-label efforts - In 2016, Hormel Foods added two additional sodium reduction product categories and initiated 47 clean-label projects.

Diversity and inclusion efforts - In 2016, an additional employee resource group was formed and the company achieved a perfect score on the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s Corporate Equality Index.

Hormel donated US$10.9 million in cash and products in 2016. This included US$7.4 million in hunger donations, a donation of 2.7 million cans of SPAMMY® (a shelf-stable poultry product to help prevent childhood malnutrition in Guatemala), and more than US$826,000 in education donations.

Telling a poultry company’s sustainability story

Letting customers know about livestock industry sustainability initiatives, as Hormel did, may become increasingly important for poultry producers.

Millennials want to know poultry’s story, including sustainability aspects, wrote Gary Thornton for WATT PoultryUSA. Millennials want to get it in a context that helps them determine whether they will buy your products or work for your company. They will influence your future as investors and regulators. Some may decide to support your businesses with their inventions, or defend it from anti-farming, anti-business radicals. All of this is still to be decided.

There is positive news here, couched in a challenge. Perhaps more than their predecessor generation, millennials are open to knowing about the poultry business; its products, practices and people. Yes, they have less connection to commercial farming than any previous generation, but millennials have an intensely focused interest and caring about things of social significance. Food is of intense social significance to them.

The opportunity is to tell your poultry story to them – whether it is how poultry producers are protecting the environment with Clean Water Award-winning wastewater treatment operations or responsibly using antibiotics to keep flocks healthy to deliver nutritious and affordable chicken and turkey to American families.

But there also is danger when the poultry industry’s companies and people shrink from telling their stories. While millennials are ready to make up their own minds about whether poultry is to be trusted – perhaps less reliant on external authorities – your transparency is crucial to shaping their beliefs and attitudes about poultry production. Without transparency on the part of the poultry industry, they will be guided only by what they learn from others who are willing to tell our story for us.

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