In 2016, we launched 600 new retail and foodservice items.
To continue to offer new options to meet the needs of consumers around the world, we focus our innovation efforts on healthy/holistic lifestyle, on-the-go, multicultural and global options.
In addition, we recently introduced a new innovation goal: to deliver 15 percent of sales from new products developed and launched in the previous five years.
As part of our product innovation approach, we have a team dedicated to innovation management. This team is responsible for major new product development projects in our company, and we have a system for measuring key indicators to help manage the new product innovation process. We also have formalized a companywide governance system to maintain the necessary checks and balances of this product innovation process, and in 2014 we created an Innovation Steering Committee that meets quarterly to review the company’s innovation progress.
In 2014, we also established an Innovation Best of the Best competition category to highlight our focus on successful innovation. In 2016, five entries from multiple business units entered the competition and the Herdez® guacamole salsa team was named the winner. The team started with a strategic goal of driving growth in the salsa category. Herdez® guacamole salsa is modeled after flavors of local taco shops, or taquerias, which offer various types of salsas and sauces. Until now, consumers have never been able to buy a shelf-stable version of a guacamole salsa.
Our consumer engagement team is dedicated to maintaining strong relationships with our consumers, while ascertaining consumer tastes and preferences in changing demographics. By interacting with consumers on a daily basis, our team can better evaluate consumer needs. In 2016, the consumer engagement team fielded more than 127,000 contacts.
In 2015, we acquired Applegate Farms, LLC, owner of the Applegate® brand (the No. 1 brand in the natural and organic prepared meats category). As a growing number of consumers choose natural and organic products, this purchase provides Hormel Foods and the Applegate® brand a faster path to expanded offerings in this high-growth category. In addition, we acquired Justin’s LLC, owner of the Justin’s® brand and a pioneer in nut butter-based snacking, in 2016.
In 2016, we rolled out several new items, with a focus on expanding our on-the-go offerings for today’s busy consumers. These items included: