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Hormel CEO: Plant-Based Meat Line Went to Market in Just Two Months

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CNBC

Hormel’s plant-based meat brand Happy Little Plants launched in September, housed under the company’s Cultivated Foods umbrella.

In an attempt to quickly jump onto the plant-based meat craze, Hormel’s new brand went to market in just two months, after being spurned by an original partner, its CEO said Thursday.

″[Plant-based proteins] was a trend that we saw coming,” CEO Jim Snee said in an interview with CNBC’s Jim Cramer. “We had actually partnered with another company, and then with the IPO market hit, that partner said, ’You know what, we want to try and go it alone. So instead of buying, we had to build. We put our team in motion, and we got it from ideation to market in eight to 10 weeks.”

Happy Little Plants launched in September, housed under Hormel’s Cultivated Foods umbrella. The flagship product of the brand is a ground meat alternative.

The announcement came the same day Kellogg said it would be adding plant-based meat line Incogmeato to its portfolio, produced by its Morningstar Farms brand.

Both food companies are bidding that consumer and investor interest in plant-based burgers from Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods will carry over to their new additions.

Shares of Hormel, which has a market cap of $22.4 billion, have risen around 5% in the past 12 months. Beyond Meat, which has a market cap of $8.2 billion, has seen its stock skyrocket more than 400% since its IPO in May.

“There’s no arguing the consumer is more curious about plants than they ever have. When it comes to valuation of the company, all we can worry about is ourselves,” said Snee. “It’s about: How can we grow our business organically, how do we innovate, and how do we continue to make disciplined acquisitions?”

Snee also said that the company has made significant runway in taking its brands global, but the growth has been slower than he hoped for.

“It hasn’t been accelerated as quickly as we like,” he said. “We’ve got a good business in China that’s focused on the China market. Two years ago, we made a small investment in Brazil to learn about that market. Business has been doing well … but there’s going to be other opportunities for us to become even more global over time.”