Foodservice represents 27 percent of Hormel Foods' portfolio and is a key growth target for the company.

New beginnings

A positive for Jennie-O Turkey Store is the successful start of construction on a new processing plant in Melrose, Minnesota.

Hormel Foods is set to invest more than $137 million in state-of-the-art processing equipment that will enable the company to increase production capabilities and enhance plant efficiency and the company’s animal handling practices.

The new plant, which will process mostly whole birds, replaces an existing company plant in Melrose, however the current plant will remain in operation during the construction process. Hormel executives expect the new facility to be completed by early 2019. The existing plant will be partially torn down, and the remaining structure will be used for further value-added products.

“While our emphasis at Jennie-O Turkey Store is on value-added products, whole birds are an important part of the turkey supply chain,” Snee said. “The new plant will increase operational efficiency through an improved layout and will also automate some of the most difficult production jobs. Construction begins this year, and we expect the plant to be operational in early 2019.”

Black Label bust-up

Separately Hormel Foods became entangled in a legal tussle with St. Louis, Missouri-based Nestle Purina Petcare Co.

Hormel, which has sold bacon under the “Black Label” mark since 1963, claimed in a trademark infringement lawsuit that Purina’s new line of Beggin’ brand bacon-shaped pet treats sold under the Black Label designation is likely to “… cause confusion, mistake, or deception in the market as to the source, origin, sponsorship, or approval…” of Purina’s products and could imply that the dog treats are connected to, associated or affiliated with Hormel Foods and the company’s Black Label bacon products.

“Hormel Foods has used its Black Label mark in connection with bacon for more than 50 years, promotes the Black Label bacon brand very actively, and owns long established rights for the mark,” the company said in a statement. “Because our brands and trademarks represent a standard of quality and value to our consumers, customers, and shareholders, willful unauthorized use of our Black Label mark is taken very seriously, and we will protect our brand vigorously.”

In response, Purina expressed confidence that consumers would not confuse the Purina pet treats with Hormel’s Black Label bacon. “Black label is a term widely used across industries – for products like alcohol, food, clothing and cars – to designate premium quality,” Purina said in a statement.

Hormel has asked the court to bar Purina from using the Black Label mark. The company also has asked for a jury trial, monetary damages and taxable costs and attorneys’ fees.