Hormel Foods Corp. is expanding in the snack market with Skippy P.B. Bites, Spam Snacks and Jennie-O Turkey Breast Sticks. Executives of the Austin, Minn.-based company discussed the three new product platforms during a presentation with investors on June 11 in Minneapolis.
“Our founder, George Hormel, said it best: ‘Innovate, don’t imitate,’” said Thomas Day, group vice-president of Hormel’s Refrigerated Foods unit. “We continue to live up to that mission every day by providing new products to meet the demands of an ever-changing consumer base.”
By 2016, Hormel has set out to generate $3 billion in sales of new products launched since 2000. The company formed a corporate innovation team to develop “game-changing product innovation that often involves proprietary technology,” said Steve Binder, president of Hormel Business Units.
“Each of our company reporting segments has a goal for the challenge that we track very, very closely and know where we are and how we’re contributing to that $3 billion,” Mr. Binder said.
An example is Skippy P.B. Bites. Featuring a crunchy center with a soft peanut butter coating, the product is available in pretzel and double peanut butter varieties and contains 5 grams of protein per serving. Since acquiring the Skippy brand from Unilever for $700 million in early 2013, Hormel has introduced several line extensions, including Skippy Singles, which are portioned cups of peanut butter for dipping, and limited-edition flavors of peanut butter like salted caramel.
“We had talked about our innovation out of the jar, (but) this is our first really purely innovative effort to do just that using our innovation resources and our marketing resources, our R.&D. groups,” said James Splinter, group vice-president of Hormel’s Grocery Products unit. “This represents breakthrough innovation, and we did work very closely with the Grocery Products brand team as well as the corporate innovation team to ideate around this area of snacking and looking for that opportunity, and we knew that on-the-go was important, but officiating protein and the role that peanut butter plays in a delivery system really gave us the confidence that we have it correct.”
Skippy P.B. Bites also were inspired by the recent success of unwrapped miniature morsels from top candy bar brands.
“I’ve heard numbers that when the candy industry moved to bites, they’ve seen it to be as high as 25% incremental in terms of their overall category performance,” Mr. Splinter said. “And so that’s an opportunity for us. We think bites are very on-trend, and we hope to capture this proportion and share that.”
A similar product comes from Hormel’s iconic Spam brand. Made using proprietary technology, Spam Snacks are dried meat bites in classic, teriyaki and bacon varieties with 8 to 10 grams of protein per serving.
“These fun-to-eat Spam brand product snacks are a perfect complement to the fast-growing dried meat snacking category,” Mr. Splinter said. “Spam Snacks will be available in limited geographies this summer as we are now in the process of introducing this to the marketplace.”
Hormel also is testing a new snack item from its Jennie-O Turkey Store brand. Jennie-O All Natural Turkey Breast Sticks are individually wrapped dried meat snacks in four varieties, including oven-roasted, sweet barbecue, smokehouse and cracked pepper. Each stick contains 5 grams of protein and 25 calories.
“Our R.&D. food scientist and package technology teams are involved starting back in our discovery space,” Mr. Binder said. “They attend consumer and customer sessions to hear firsthand the needs of each group. Shared learning across the company is encouraged, which leads to the use of the learnings and the science and technology in new ways. When appropriate, our teams use outside resources such as partners like the Culinary Institute of America for faster and smarter results. We aggressively seek patents to protect our advantage in the marketplace.”
While much of Hormel’s recent innovation highlights protein and portability, consumer demand for simple ingredients also factors into product development. The company has reformulated its Hormel Always Tender line of marinated meats to align with the clean label trend.
“Consumers will see a reduction in the number of ingredients used and are already telling us that they like the improved flavor of all of these new products,” Mr. Day said. “The new Always Tender is now available in stores with the declaration that it now has artificial ingredients.
“Bottom line, we listened to our customers and have adapted our product line to meet exactly what they are looking for.”