AUSTIN, Minn. – Hormel Foods Corp. has promoted Robert Samples to vice president of sales and marketing at Farmer John, Vernon, Calif. Samples will be responsible for the retail and foodservice sales and marketing functions for Farmer John. He will report to Greg Longstreet, president of Farmer John, and will transition to his new position by Oct. 30, 2011.

Samples is a 29-year Hormel Foods veteran and a graduate of Southern Illinois Univ. He earned his MBA from Mississippi College and started at Hormel in 1982 as a sales representative in Wausau, Wis. Samples held other sales positions in Fargo, ND, and Jackson, Miss., before advancing to his first management role as a district manager in 1988. Two years later, he advanced to a product manager role in Austin, Minn., and then to sales manager for the deli division. In 1992, Samples advanced to regional manager for the meat products division.

With the formation of the consumer products sales division, Samples advanced to his current position as director of planning and support services and has been instrumental in the development of the company’s category management team, according to the company. He has been a leader in the development of analytic training and has played a key role in establishing the Category Management Certification program through the Category Management Association. As a result, Hormel Foods was the first company in the United States to receive this certification.