In 2020, we successfully implemented projects that reduced water use by 119 million gallons.
Reducing water usage continues to be a top priority for all of our stakeholders and thus, continues to be a priority at Hormel Foods.
After surpassing our 2020 goal in 2016 to reduce water use by 0.5 billion gallons, we have continued to achieve additional reductions. In 2020, we successfully implemented projects that reduced water use by 119 million gallons, exceeding our goal by 106 percent when combined with our progress since 2012. Our total manufacturing water use during 2020 was 4.65 billion gallons.
Our water sources for our domestic manufacturing facilities are solely municipal utilities. We consistently look for ways to improve our equipment and engage our employees on an ongoing basis to achieve water use reduction through behavior-based initiatives. Normalized usage (cubic meters/sales tonnage) for 2020 was 7.9, a nearly 13 percent increase compared to our prior-year level, which was primarily a result of reduction in production volume.
In addition to monitoring our water usage, we evaluate our operations to determine the business risk associated with water scarcity. After careful evaluation, we confirmed that Hormel Foods does not have manufacturing operations in areas defined as water-scarce regions by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. We have identified three manufacturing facilities that are located in regions defined as overall high risk, using the World Resources Institute’s Aqueduct Water Risk Atlas. Access-to-water risk remains low at all domestic manufacturing locations, and we remain committed to driving water reduction and efficiency improvements at these and all manufacturing locations.
- Groundwater (88%)
- Surface Water (12%)
- Prairie Du Chien-Jordan Aquifer (45%)
- Other (41%)
- Quaternary Buried Artesian Aquifer (14%)
We have published our Sustainable Agriculture Policy and completed a high-level water risk assessment of our top suppliers through our participation in the AgWater Challenge. We have also completed our first water risk questionnaire set with key suppliers to gain additional insight into the supply chain management of water risks. In 2018, we helped launch the Cedar River Watershed Partnership — a public-private partnership aimed at improving water quality. In the past, the partnership has held several events for farmers, including a field day educational event that focused on maximizing soil health. A priority of the partnership is helping farmers in the southern Minnesota watershed become certified through the Minnesota Agricultural Water Quality Certification Program.
For additional information, please see our CDP climate change response.
Recent Projects to Reduce Water Usage
31M+Gallons Of Water Saved
Jennie-O Turkey Store Willmar Ave. Plant (Willmar, Minn.)
The team at our Jennie-O Turkey Store Willmar Ave. Plant was able to save more than 31 million gallons of water annually by partnering with an equipment manufacturer to redesign the spray headers and nozzles used for equipment sanitation. The project also reduced the amount of energy needed to cool the water to 32 degrees Fahrenheit. Through this initiative, the team saved enough water to offset running a shower for over 28 years.
9.5MGallons Of Water Saved
Burke Corporation (Nevada, Iowa)
A cross-functional team at our Burke facility saved 9.5 million gallons of water annually by installing a reverse osmosis water treatment system instead of a standard water softener. This not only saved water, it contributed to natural gas savings and reduced the amount of chlorides that would need to be removed in wastewater treatment. The plant saved enough water to fill over 60 million 20-ounce water bottles.
18MGallons Of Water Saved
Austin (Minn.) Plant
The engineering team at our Austin Plant reduced city water usage by nearly 18 million gallons a year by switching to a closed chilling loop for the heat exchanger on a hydrostatic steam cooker. By finding an alternative way to cool the steam cooker, the plant saved enough water to offset washing your hands under a low-flow faucet for over 22 years.
The efficient treatment of process water is an important part of our operations and a key focus of our environmental programs. Our goal extends beyond full compliance to developing collaborative partnerships in the communities where we operate.
Whether by direct discharge or indirect discharge via municipal wastewater systems, treated process water from our manufacturing locations is distributed to the following watersheds (percentage denotes the breakdown of wastewater distribution to each location).