Hormel Foods CEO Jeff Ettinger holds his annual press conference before the start of the annual shareholders meeting Tuesday night at Austin High School. -- Eric Johnson/Albert Lea Tribune

Archived Story

Hormel Foods CEO reflects on record year

Published 10:01am Wednesday, January 30, 2013

AUSTIN — Hormel had a pretty busy year in 2012, but its CEO Jeff Ettinger pointed to a 2013 acquisition as one of the company’s biggest recent achievements.

Hormel Foods Corp. had a record year in total sales and profit in 2012, announced its 47th-consecutive annual stock dividend increase and reached $2 billion in sales for new products since 2000. But the acquisition of the Skippy peanut butter brand announced on Jan. 3 got the most attention Tuesday night at the company’s annual shareholders meeting at Austin High School’s Knowlton Auditorium.

“Skippy didn’t happen during the fiscal year, but it was too exciting not to talk about,” Ettinger said to laughter and applause in the auditorium filled with more than 1,000 stockholders.

Becci Smith hands out programs to shareholders before the Hormel annual shareholders meeting Tuesday night at Austin High School.

The $700 million acquisition, which will finalize in the U.S. on Thursday, garnered national attention earlier this month and was Hormel’s largest buy in history. Hormel expects annual Skippy sales of about $370 million, with almost $100 million of that from outside the United States, a figure that would increase the company’s international division by 30 percent. The $270 million in domestic sales would be the most for all of Hormel’s grocery division products, which includes Spam and Hormel Chili. The company also lauded reaching its “Go for $2B by 2012” goal, which called for $2 billion in total sales of new products since 2000. The achievement is even more impressive, Ettinger said, considering the company had total sales of $8.2 billion in 2012.

The most successful new products include Hormel party trays, Hormel Natural Choice deli meats, Hormel Compleats microwave meals and Jennie-O Turkey Store oven ready items and turkey burgers.

Hormel also released the amount it donated for hunger relief in 2012; a total of $3.2 million in the U.S. and internationally, especially Guatemala, and including $220,000 to fight hunger in 22 plant communities. The company gave more than $5 million in 2011 as part of its “On Our Way to Ending Hunger” program.

The meeting’s featured presentation came from Phillip Minerich, vice president of Hormel’s research and development. The department has more than 100 scientists working in Austin and about 100 outside the U.S. handling roughly 300 projects at any given time.