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Hormel chief cautiously optimistic at annual meeting

Austin-based Hormel Foods is doing well, considering the current tough economic climate, but is watchful and has implemented a hiring freeze at its plants and corporate offices, the Albert Lea Tribune reports.

Austin-based Hormel Foods is doing well, considering the current tough economic climate, but is watchful and has implemented a hiring freeze at its plants and corporate offices, the Albert Lea Tribune reports.

Jeff Ettinger, CEO, president and chairman of the board, said at the company’s annual meeting Tuesday in the Austin High School auditorium that the company will “closely scrutinize” positions when employees leave or retire and that layoffs would be a “plant-level decision.”

He gave a cautiously optimistic report on the prospects of the Fortune 500 company, explaining they are still “keeping our eye on the recession effect.”

He said other major players in the meat industry — Tyson Foods, which has pledged all of its assets to creditors to stay in the business, and Pilgrim’s Pride, which declared bankruptcy — are seeing the downside of the failing economy.

Production of Spam, considered an economical “recession food,” is  “pretty busy,” Ettinger said, and four of Hormel’s five operating segments have shown growth.

Hormel’s strategy, he said, includes increased advertising and reaching $2 billion in new products by 2012; its $1 billion goal was reached two years early, in 2007.