Hormel’s Originate Initiative Puts Spotlight on Data-Inspired Innovations

Liz Dominguez
Managing Editor
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Every consumer goods company is looking for new ways to innovate, leaning on technologies that can help optimize efforts, lower costs, and give them the competitive edge. Hormel Foods Corporation is doing just that, celebrating its focus on data to transform innovation strategies across the enterprise. 

The company recently launched The Originate Initiative, a business-wide effort that is highlighting Hormel’s insights-led innovation through multiplatform storytelling, thought leadership, and by showcasing the strategies and individuals who are making big things happen. 

Insights-Led Innovation

The biggest focus is on how valuable market analysis and consumer insights are informing innovation at the brand, particularly the information coming into Hormel’s center of excellence, Brand Fuel.

According to Scott Aakre, senior vice president of Brand Fuel, the initiative works as a call-to-action to global Hormel associates and partners to push efforts forward and explain how innovation is built into the company’s everyday work and thinking. 

[Also read: Building the Supply Chain of the Future: 5 Consumer Goods Companies Investing in Innovative Approaches]

“The goal is to make sure that we’re talking about innovation across the enterprise; that we’re sharing the story of our success internally as well as to our external partners so they have a sense of all the great things we’re doing from a new product standpoint,” Aakre tells CGT.

These stories, however, are not just about new products, he says. It’s about drilling down into the process of innovation and showcasing conversations about the future of the food industry. 

“We’ll highlight our industry-leading efforts through monthly e-bulletins, multi-platform storytelling, and other thought leadership opportunities while sparking conversations about what we can achieve tomorrow and beyond,” says Aakre. “Leading this conversation will help us stay ahead of market changes, identify promising partnerships, and forge bold strategies for the future.”

Diving Into Data

In terms of the types of data Hormel is tapping into, Eric Tupy, director of IT strategy, enterprise architecture, and analytics, says the company looks to have the greatest impact on key results and capabilities that build on the future of the enterprise. 

“Some examples of the most impactful insights include consumer and customer trends, productivity improvements, forecast optimizations, and supply chain drivers,” Tupy tells CGT. “Our approach to data and analytics and the delivery of insights spans all areas of the company, such as finance, sales, marketing, supply chain, and HR.”

These data-led insights require collaboration, according to Hormel. The company leverages the expertise of R&D scientists, product engineers, operations, consumer insights and analytics, a senior cultural anthropologist, and digital experience teams. 

In 2022 alone, the company said it introduced about 600 new retail and foodservice products using this innovation strategy. 

"The Originate Initiative is about all of us thinking differently about the work we do. The goal is to make sure that we're talking about innovation across the enterprise and that we're sharing the story of our success internally as well as to some of our external partners. It's not only about innovation and new products. It's about innovation in process, innovation in the way we think." — Scott Aakre, SVP, Brand Fuel

Many consumer goods companies are looking to uncover the treasure trove of data and innovation secrets that will provide them with the necessary tools for developing strategic changes across their businesses. 

La-Z-Boy, for example, has established a consumer insights division and invested in a data platform to better aggregate and understand this valuable information. Unilever, meanwhile, has focused on artificial intelligence and automation, using robots to develop innovative products. Other companies like Nike are looking at new ways of innovating; for example, using consumer insights drawn from loyalty member polling within its product development. 

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