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What’s Behind Hormel’s Success?

Hormel Foods International President Swen Neufeldt recently joined The Food Institute Podcast to discuss the company’s strong performance over the past several quarters, the resilience of its legacy brands, and the prospects for emerging plant-based lines. Below are highlights from the discussion.


One reason behind Hormel’s success is the emphasis on its legacy brands, such as SPAM, Skippy, Planter’s, and La Victoria, just to name a few.

“When you look at our business very few other companies have the kind of iconic powerhouse brands that we do,” said Neufeldt. “We’ve just got a great portfolio of brands.”

One of Hormel’s key priorities includes protecting and growing these  brands and aggressively expanding internationally.

Neufeldt added that Hormel calls itself a “global branded food company”, which he believes sets the brand apart.

“We’re not a meat company.  We’re a food company. We’re branded,” he said. “We’re really focused on our brands … We really are building out our global footprint.” 


Like many brands today, Hormel has been leaning into the consumer preference towards plant-based and foods that are perceived as healthier.

“We’re all about giving consumers options,” said Neufeldt. “It goes back to meeting the consumer where they are.”

Notably, about 25% of Hormel’s portfolio is already plant-based, including products like nut butters under the Skippy, Justin’s, and Planter’s brands, as well as its Mexican portfolio which includes products such as salsas and Holy Guacamole.

The company also launched Happy Little Plants, a plant-based pizza toppings brand, in 2019.

Hormel is already a number one brand when it comes to pepperoni, which made it a natural fit in the plant-based category, Neufeldt noted.

“The consumer gets the benefit of the plant-based, but they get the crave-able pepperoni experience that they want, too.”


Hormel recently reported SPAM’s seventh consecutive year of record growth.

Neufeldt attributes the canned meat’s success to the versality of the product and its ability to adapt to many different cultures.

“It’s an incredible product because it was originally an export from the U.S. But it’s been absorbed into the local culture and then made local,” he said. “In every place that we’ve taken this brand its about understanding the consumer and then integrating the brand into the local culture.”

For more on SPAM’s success story, check out FI Investigates: The Secret Ingredients to SPAM’s Success.