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Hormel Foods CEO: Non-meat proteins good for business

Hormel-Foods-headquarters
Photo courtesy of Hormel Foods

Hormel’s Jim Snee talks of less dependence on commodity-driven businesses, decreasing volatility and increasing balance, and strengths of non-meat protein, but what does that all mean?

June 12, 2018

Hormel Foods CEO Jim Snee’s presentation during the dbAccess Global Consumer Conference offered a lot of information about the diversified food company that is also the parent company of Jennie-O Turkey Store and Spam.

But at the same time, it left me with many questions concerning the direction the company will be taking in the future.

‘A global branded food company’

Snee said that Hormel Foods started out mainly as a “commodities company,” explaining that its high-volume companies, like its pork operations, were primarily “commodity driven.”

But the company has grown through acquisitions of other companies that are less dependent on market prices for feed grains. Snee added that the company is very pleased with the track record of success with the recent acquisitions.

“We’re not a protein company, not an ag company, not a commodity company,” Snee said, inserting that Hormel Foods is a “global branded food company.”

Meat and non-meat proteins

Snee said that Hormel’s goals are to continue to be “vibrant and relavent,” to “reduce volatility and increase balance” and to continue its evolution to become a “broader food company.”

“Yes, we are deeply rooted in the protein space, with pork and turkey; we also have beef and chicken offerings, and we truly love the protein part of our business,” Snee said. “But if you think about it, it was just six short years ago when we weren’t even talking about or thinking about non-meat protein.

“But now, we’ve acquired Skippy peanut butter. We’ve acquired Justin’s almond butters. We have acquired Muscle Milk in the sports nutrition category. We have acquired some great non-meat protein items that have really rounded out our portfolio.”

The future

While Snee spoke about the success of its more recent acquisitions, specifically of the non-meat protein acquisitions, he added that the company is looking at further growth, both organically and through more acquisitions.

Perhaps I am reading too much into this and speculating too much, but when he touted more traditional non-meat protein products, it made me wonder if under consideration was plant-based, meat-like products or laboratory-grown meat.

There’s no denying that there is a growing interest in these protein spaces, as evidenced by investments by fellow diversified food companies like Tyson Foods and Maple Leaf Foods.

However, those two companies, specifically Tyson, have identified themselves more as protein-centered, while Snee specifically said Hormel doesn’t necessarily consider itself a protein company.

But nobody can dispute that protein has been a integral part of Hormel Foods, and will continue to be. And with all the buzz about those proteins in which Hormel doesn’t have a presence, it does seem plausible that that could change.

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