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Telling the Sustainability Story

Mary Burich | March 28, 2023


‘It’s the way we work,’ says Jen Ehresmann

Jen Ehresmann has long had a world view. Decades ago, she majored in international business, landing a job in Frankfurt, Germany, upon completing her degree. After a few years – and some other experiences – Jen set her sights on Hormel Foods, and that’s where it got real.

In her 20-plus years with Hormel Foods and its subsidiary Jennie-O, Jen has held positions in commodity and export sales, product management, brand marketing, and supply chain. Her latest role – vice president of supply chain – puts her at the forefront of procurement and logistics for the global branded food company. It also earned her a spot on the stage at the 2023 Reuters Responsible Business USA conference, an annual event that draws sustainability experts from some of the largest, best-known companies in the world.

Jen will speak on the role procurement and supply chain leaders play in driving the sustainability agenda. It’s a natural fit for her; they’re topics that are discussed and acted on often at Hormel Foods.

In 2017, the company established its One Supply Chain function to streamline and bring all aspects of its global supply chain under one entity. Because it touches virtually every area of the company, supply chain is in an enviable sustainability position, Jen offers. “We are bringing the company together and driving significant waste out of the organization. That includes sharing assets, reducing food miles and so much more,” she says.

They’re not an ‘and;’ it’s just the way we work.

Jen Ehresmann

In 2020, Hormel Foods pushed the envelope on its companywide sustainability program by launching its 20 By 30 Challenge, a set of stretch goals related to renewable energy, packaging reduction and myriad other elements of its ESG platform.

The goals aren’t easy, but neither are they foreign to the team.

“They’re ambitious, but the team understands them, and they tie into our jobs every day,” she says. “They’re not an ‘and;’ it’s just the way we work.”

Furthermore, Jen says there was a feedback loop when it came time to establish the 20 By 30 Challenge.

“It wasn’t a blank sheet of paper … it’s a continuation [of what we’ve been building.] A formalization of some of the significant work we were already doing.” The goals cover those that are most relevant to the Hormel Foods business and stakeholders, as well as being supportive of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

The goals cover all areas of production, from regenerative agriculture and antibiotic stewardship initiatives to operations within our production plants, including significant water-use reduction and matching 100% of the company’s energy with renewable sourcing.

Our 20 by 30 Challenge
20 qualitative and quantitative goals to achieve by the end of 2030 to make the world a better place

Despite the ability of the Hormel Foods One Supply Chain to move the sustainability needle, Jen is adamant that it takes an enterprisewide effort and commitment. In fact, she insists, it can’t be successful with a single person or department.

Thus, when she heads to the Big Apple in April, she’ll be telling a story of something she says is “in the DNA of Hormel Foods” and showcasing the work of its 20,000 global team members.

“I get to be the one who speaks on behalf of the company,” Jen says. “But it’s really the work of so many.”