We launched over 520 retail and foodservice items, and 14 percent of our sales were from new products developed and launched in the previous five years.
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. In 2017, we came close to achieving our goal as 14 percent of our sales were 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 internal Innovation Best of the Best competition to highlight our focus on successful innovation. In 2017, four entries from multiple business units entered the competition and the Wholly® hand scooped avocado team was named the winner. Wholly® hand scooped avocado improves the consistency and taste of avocados year-round while reducing labor and improving food and employee safety.
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 2017, the consumer engagement team fielded more than 118,000 contacts.
Strategic acquisitions continue to be a focus for the company for continued growth and additional innovation opportunities. Listed below are some of our recent acquisitions:
- 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 Applegate a faster path to expanded offerings in this high-growth category.
- In 2016, we acquired Justin’s LLC, owner of the Justin’s® brand and a pioneer in nut butter-based snacking.
- In 2017, we acquired Cidade do Sol, a growing, branded, value-added meats company in Brazil. The company offers more than 70 products in 15 categories including authentic meats such as mortadella, sausage and salami for Brazilian retail and foodservice markets under the popular Ceratti® brand. We also acquired Fontanini Italian Meats and Sausages, a branded foodservice business, from Capitol Wholesale Meats, Inc. Fontanini specializes in authentic Italian meats and sausages, as well as a variety of other premium meat products including pizza toppings and meatballs.
New Options & Recognition
In 2017, we launched over 520 retail and foodservice items. These items included HormelTM Natural Choice® snacks, Muscle Milk® bars and Applegate Naturals® no sugar bacon. We also received the Grocery Manufacturers Association Award for Innovation and Creativity for SKIPPY® P.B. bites and the following products were recognized with Progressive Grocer Editors’ Picks awards:
- Evolve® products;
- Applegate Naturals® jalapeno and cheddar sausage;
- Applegate® thick cut bacon;
- Hormel® Black Label® real bacon crumbles; and
- HormelTM Natural Choice® snacks.