2010 R&D Team Winner: Hormel Foods

Our 2010 R&D Team of the Year winner is rooted in the past, ahead of its time.

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Minerich is also proud of the company's Café H foodservice line. "Foodservice customers also are time constrained," he says. "This product allows the operator to put his own sauce or our sauce onto prepared meats, whether it is pulled chicken, beef or pork. The line has been a great success. This year we introduced Always Tender Oven Roasted Fully Cooked Pork Loin, another extension of foodservice convenience," he says.

"We own the consumer market with our Hormel Microwave Ready Bacon – four slices of raw bacon per packet and four packets per package. It's a very convenience-driven product, and growth has primarily been through consumer word of mouth," he says. "Our Hormel fully cooked entrees have also been a great success.They deliver easy to prepare, center-of-plate meats to consumers, allowing them to build the rest of their meal around it. Our Hormel Always Tender Case Ready line delivers a patented process guaranteeing quality. Hormel Always Tender is the only fresh meat in the market guaranteed to deliver an always tender eating experience or your money back."

Talking turkey about wellness
"The most important attribute in new products is balance," says Minerich, who believes the wellness trend is here to stay and emphasizes Hormel Foods will continue to build on it. "When you look at a product like Hormel Compleats, you are talking about a balanced nutritional portfolio of proteins, fats and carbohydrates. You are also looking at portion and calorie control. We try to help our customers balance their lifestyle with our product offerings.

"Our fully cooked entrees help balance their meal because we provide that center-of-the-plate experience, and they can build around it with vegetables, starches or salads. Our Hormel Natural Choice line of lunchmeats meets the needs of those consumers looking for naturally healthy products.

"Looking at all Hormel products across the board, more than 80 percent are at or below the RDI for sodium," he says adding, "Our portfolio is far reaching, and sodium is a key issue. We also own Jennie-O Turkey Store, and turkey is a very healthy protein. In general, lean protein offers satiety. When you balance your diet with lean protein, it gives you a sense of satisfaction and fullness that discourages over eating and snacking. Lean pork is as lean as lean chicken now. Convenience and package functionality – easy open, recloseable, portion size -- is also important."

A matter of trust
"We are very much a career oriented company, in fact, the top 10 percent of R&D has over 33 years of seniority," says Minerich proudly. "It's not unusual for our company to have that kind of institutional knowledge, which gives us a unique competitive advantage. A consultant once asked how we could get anything done with so many meetings. I told him that's exactly how we get things done.

We have to have to be efficient with our meetings: have an agenda, get right to task, and get the job done in 30 minutes or less. Questions are asked, there are no holds barred, everyone walks away with action assignments, and we all trust each other to get our tasks done. We all have work to do, so we get down to it and make sure we are advancing the project.

"It goes back to the long-term relationships that have been built on trust. This is the Hormel Foods family, everyone is proud of each other's accomplishments. I've worked for four CEOs, and they, along with all the other employees have integrity. With integrity, trust and teamwork in place, we can focus our efforts on being relevant to the customer or consumer."

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