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Meet the Innovators: Annemarie Vaupel

April 9, 2024

People | The Originate Initiative

Annemarie Vaupel, vice president of marketing for the foodservice division, discusses the importance of customers’ views, balancing new and existing products, and more.

Annemarie Vaupel has been a team member at Hormel Foods since 2002. She began her career in the HR department and after almost six years there returned to her true passion in sales and marketing. She has held various positions within the foodservice division including brand manager, national sales manager for healthcare, innovation team lead and director of marketing. She is currently vice president of marketing for the foodservice division.

She is a graduate of the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, with a BA in psychology. In 2021, she completed an executive leadership certificate program through the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management. She is the past industry advisory board chair for The Association of Healthcare Foodservice and past board chair for the United Way of Mower County.


Can you describe your role at Hormel Foods and how you support innovation efforts at the company?

As the vice president of marketing, I work with our brand team as well as our innovation team leader to support those individuals and encourage their creativity. My job is to advocate for what they need as far as resources or promoting their ideas. Success of innovation in foodservice is understanding our operators’ pain points. I encourage our team to go out, spend time with operators, be in kitchens, watch what’s happening operationally so that we can make sure our products are delivering relevant solutions

How is the approach to innovation within the Hormel foodservice division different from the rest of the company?

In foodservice we approach innovation through the lens of the operator. When you think about a restaurant, or college dining services or a hospital foodservice operation, you think about back-of-the-house operations. What’s efficient, what allows them to hit the appropriate price point if they’re managing to a really hard and fast price point? Our innovation initiatives always have to be thinking about it from that perspective.

We don’t have the same type of data that you might have on the retail side of the business, so it’s a balance between art and science and listening to a lot of operator insight. We have to spend lots of time with our operators and ask insightful questions to make sure we’re solving for the right things.

How do you balance the drive to innovate with the need to maintain and enhance existing products, product lines and services?

Balancing between true breakthrough innovation and what we refer to as a line extension or updating the current portfolio is driven by our operators communicating to us what their biggest needs are. We as an industry leader are expected to come to the marketplace with breakthrough innovation. We’ve done that with HORMEL® BACON 1™ Perfectly Cooked Bacon and now our new HORMEL® FLASH 180™ Battered Sous Vide Chicken. Those are true industry game changers when it comes to efficiency from an operator perspective.

But I think the operator community also is expecting us to constantly be renovating our portfolio. So as regulatory things change, we have to make sure that our formulations are evolving with those needs. The desire for all natural ingredients and minimal processing, we’re always trying to stay in front of those trends.

In what ways do you encourage cross-functional collaboration to drive innovation within the organization?

I’m a huge fan of cross-functional collaboration. I believe that we have a tremendous opportunity as an organization because of the breadth and depth of our portfolio to innovate once and leverage it across the entire enterprise. We all want a great eating experience. We want it to be convenient. We don’t want it to be super messy. We’re trying to solve for similar things across the enterprise. We’ve gotten a lot smarter on the foodservice side with doing pilot markets on new items that we knew were breakthrough, but we knew we would have to provide a lot of education for operators on how to use it in their operation.

Can you provide an example of a successful innovation that resulted in significant market growth or competitive advantage for Hormel Foodservice?

Out of all of our innovations within the last 10 to 15 years, I would say by far HORMEL® BACON 1™ is the one that’s revolutionized the industry. It has given operators bacon that tastes like it’s been cooked from raw — in a third of the time.

Ribbon pepperoni is going to deliver similar value for an operator. When you think about pumping out 50 to 75 pizzas an hour, speed and consistency is critical. We have eliminated the need to count 32 pieces of pepperoni going on top of a pie and have given them a format with a lot faster coverage. Think about how you sprinkle cheese on a pizza. Now you’re able to sprinkle pepperoni ribbons in the same fashion. It’s highly efficient. Pizza is one of the most Instagrammable foods ever. Ribbon pepperoni is going to lend itself to lots of photographs of a pie.