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2012 Power 50: No. 40 Jeffrey M. Ettinger

Jeffrey M. Ettinger joins SN’s Power 50 list the same year that Hormel Foods’ Spam celebrates its 75th birthday.

“In a market when some of the center of the store sales have been a little bit slower during the winter season, Spam was still growing and we’re very excited about the product in general and about this 75th anniversary campaign in particular,” Ettinger, Hormel’s chairman, president and CEO, told SN.

For the 2011 fiscal year, Hormel’s overall sales were up 9%, with gains in all segments and a 1% increase in volume sales.

Hormel’s Mexican food portfolio, MegaMex — a joint venture with the Mexican company Herdez del Fuerte — is one of the company’s strong performing areas.

“We really are striving to be the leader in a broad portfolio of Mexican items in the retail grocery store,” Ettinger said.

In the last two years, MegaMex has acquired two new brands — Don Miguel Foods and Fresherized Foods and its Wholly Guacamole line of products.

Hormel’s reach also extends abroad.

In May, the company reported that the category with international sales had a 10% boost in volume sales and an 11% increase in dollar sales for the second quarter of 2012.

“We’ve had really strong performance from our international team, particularly over the last couple of years,” said Ettinger.

Like many other suppliers, Ettinger noted that cost inflation was a challenge this year, but said Hormel was working to keep costs down by working on efficiency through the supply chain.

This year, Hormel Food’s Corporate Responsibility report noted that the Austin, Minn.-based manufacturer reduced its environmental footprint in 2011, by cutting down packaging by 4.2 million pounds and water consumption by 15%.

The company’s internal Best of the Best competition that creates friendly rivalry between facilities kept 695.2 tons of waste from the landfill and increased recycling by 27%, according to a company press release.

This winter, the manufacturer also announced that it will eliminate gestation crates for sows in its company-owned facilities.

For Ettinger, one of the key accomplishments this year is how the company fostered an innovative culture that began with its founder, George Hormel.

The company plans to continue this innovation by looking for opportunities to promote products that offer meat as a snack, like party trays and its Pepperoni Minis, and also through nonmeat items.

“We feel comfortable venturing into logical adjacencies to our protein expertise,” Ettinger said.

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