Save the date for the 2022 American Peanut Council Winter Conference, December 6th & 7th to be held at the Intercontinental Buckhead Atlanta.


What you missed at APC Winter’s Conference: A president’s vision, a strategic acquisition and post-pandemic food trends

 Click here for photos from the conference

American Peanut Council’s Winter Conference returned on Dec. 9 for the first time since 2019, marking the first winter meeting under the staff leadership of APC’s new President and CEO Richard Owen.

In attendance were enthusiastic and eager industry members from across the supply chain: enthusiastic to be meeting with colleagues in person, and eager to hear from prominent leaders in the peanut and food industry. 

Owen: Look to the future, be willing to let go of the pastuntitled 65

After thanking APC’s Board of Directors and Board Chairman Karl Zimmer for their leadership and guidance since his arrival, Owen opened the conference by laying out his vision for what makes a great organization.

A great organization, Owen told attendees, has its head up looking around corners to anticipate what’s coming. It looks to build diversity of ideas by renewing existing partnerships or building new ones. And it has the courage to abandon past practices that don’t serve the association today.

”We can’t solve today’s problems with yesterday’s solutions, and we can’t address tomorrow’s challenges with the structures and mindsets of the past,” said Owen. He challenged members to “give this new APC an opportunity to be your partner in the future.”

Frank: Hormel has a big vision

untitled 70One of the industry’s biggest news stories this year was Hormel’s $3.35 billion purchase of the Planters snack business from Kraft Heinz. The conference’s keynote speaker was Hormel’s Group Vice President of Grocery Products Jeff Frank, who led his company’s integration of the Planters brand.

Frank recounted that when news broke in February about the acquisition, reports characterized Hormel as “becoming” a snacking company. But in truth, he said, Hormel was already a snacking company; four of its five grocery business units include snack foods.

Between its Skippy and Justin’s peanut butter brands, Frank noted the company already understood the peanut business and had established supply chain synergies. Nonetheless, he said, Hormel felt its peanut food presence needed an anchor – a big, billion-dollar brand to help solidify its whole snacking strategy, and Planters was a clear market leader. Today, Frank said, Hormel’s three peanut brands are found on the shelves of nearly half of all U.S. households.

And the company has more planned.

“We’ve got great brands, great products, and great marketing and innovation to support these products,” Frank said. “But we also want to step up in this leadership role, and be a part of how we can reframe the narrative on sustainability and the other good works going on in the peanut industry – like hunger relief and peanut allergy research.” 

Frank concluded, “I leave you with the message that as Hormel has a bigger stake in the peanut industry, we want to step up and make sure that we're doing our part as well.”

Stein: Pandemic food trends are here to stayuntitled 74

In his update on supermarket trends, Rick Stein, vice president of fresh foods for FMI-the Food Industry Association,discussed findings from FMI’s annual consumer food-trends survey. 

According to Stein, pandemic-related restricted dining out, and remote schooling and work, fueled several food-related trends, which in turn drove grocery shopping trends. While the pressures that drove many of these trends have begun to ease, Stein noted, many shoppers indicated that they expect to continue to prepare more meals at home than before the pandemic. And consumers who sought safer grocery-shopping methods during the pandemic plan to continue with online ordering, pickup and delivery.

For years, shoppers have told FMI they want to eat better and live healthier lives, Stein reported. Prior FMI surveys found that cooking at home is a primary path for achieving these goals, and that will continue, he said. “This is not a trend, and it's really resonating,” said Stein.

A final behavior driving consumers, Stein said, is social and environmental responsibility.  He concluded, “And so we're spending a lot of time trying to [describe] what's [already] in place and what we need to work on.” He noted that work has resulted in his industry’s prioritization of eliminating food waste, social justice and efforts in diversity hiring, and energy-use reduction.

Meeting attendees gave the event high marks for not only covering leading-edge topics for the industry today, but also giving members a major opportunity to connect with colleagues, professionals and business associates. 

Make plans now to attend APC’s International Peanut Forum April 27-29, and our monthly “Growing Together” webinar series. For more information about future APC events, visit

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