AUSTIN, MINN. — Consumers are shopping differently, which means consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies must do things differently to compete in a challenging environment.

For Hormel Foods, that means diversifying sales channels and reaching further into convenience stores, said James P. Snee, chief executive officer, president and board chair of the Minnesota-based company. He spoke June 10 at the virtual Oppenheimer Consumer Growth and E-Commerce Conference.

“There’s kind of a multipronged approach to c-stores where the business is,” Snee said.

Consumers come to the front of convenience stores to grab a snack, so Hormel has innovated and distributed prepared food products such as sliced meats for sandwiches and pizza toppings, he added.

Another Hormel product at work in the c-store channel is the Planters snack nut brand, which Hormel bought from Kraft Heinz in 2021 for $3.35 billion — its largest acquisition to date.

The plan was to unlock c-store potential with the popular nut products, and second-quarter earnings show Planters mixed nuts helped to boost the company’s retail business, while flavored cashews and Corn Nuts did the same in the foodservice channel.

Snee also said Hormel is on track to hit its $250 million operating income target by 2026, and he also noted the most likely net sales scenario for fiscal 2024 is the projected low end of 1%.

Hormel is making progress in key areas of the operating income plan, said Jacinth Smiley, chief financial officer, and, in some cases, the company is doing so ahead of expectations.

“… we are implementing an end-to-end planning process that really integrates the technology from a demand perspective, all the way to the supply piece and getting the products out to customers,” she said. “And then from a buy standpoint, we're clearly working on procuring better.”

Headwinds remain, including declines in whole-bird turkey volume and pricing, although Snee said Spam sales in China and contract manufacturing volumes are doing well.

Hormel is advertising Jennie-O ground turkey in the retail channel and emphasizing ground turkey products in foodservice, he said, adding that oversupply in the market is impacting the situation for all companies involved in the sector.

Additional headwinds include a pork price-fixing lawsuit Hormel settled in April for $11 million, and, in May, a voluntary peanut and mixed nut recall for potential Listeria contamination involving two retailers in five Southern states.

Hormel is scheduled to release its fiscal third-quarter financial results on Sept. 4.