Meet the Innovators: Tom Raymond

Tom Raymond, director of environmental sustainability at Hormel Foods, is focused on helping the company achieve its environmental sustainability goals.
Dec 19, 2023 11:30 AM ET

Tom Raymond has more than 25 years of experience in environmental management. He is responsible for managing the company’s environmental compliance and sustainability efforts, and under his guidance, Hormel Foods has made significant progress toward achieving its environmental sustainability goals. He started his career with the company in 2005 as a senior staff engineer at the corporate headquarters in Austin, Minn. He was promoted to principal environmental engineer in 2007, to manager of environmental engineering in 2008 and to his current position in 2010. He has a law degree from Seattle University School of Law, a master’s in environmental management from Samford University and a BES from Saint Cloud State University.

Can you describe your role at Hormel Foods and how it supports the Originate initiative and our overall innovation efforts?

My role at Hormel Foods involves primarily two functional areas: energy and environmental management systems. By environmental management systems, we’re talking about air, wastewater, the things that we interact with in our communities and manufacturing organizations. On the energy side, we focus on how we obtain energy and how we use it efficiently. There are complexities in both programs, which brings innovation into the scene. We’re not just innovating products as a company, we’re innovating our processes. And that’s how we approach our environmental and energy management systems.

What is the 20 By 30 Challenge, and what is the role of innovation in meeting these ambitious targets?

The 20 By 30 Challenge is an extension of our long-standing tradition of corporate responsibility. It’s 20 goals that we intend to meet by 2030 covering the spectrum of our products, our people, our environment and our society. Innovation will be necessary to achieve these goals because they are aggressive, and aggressive targets require new ways of thinking and doing things, which means innovating the processes that we have in place now.

Hormel Foods committed to setting a Science Based Target in 2023. Can you talk about the work behind this commitment and its impact on the company?

Science-based targets are an aggressive set of goals to achieve worldwide climate targets to offset what we believe to be the worst elements of climate change. We’ll do this by reducing our energy use, making our energy cleaner and working with our partners to reduce emissions throughout our supply chain. Our greenhouse gas emission reduction targets are extremely aggressive and our timeframe is short. We’re looking at 2030 to meet all targets, but have interim goals as early as 2025. This effort will require us to review our systems and processes and think differently about how we’re going to tackle the challenges before us.

Hormel Foods has made significant investments in renewable energy over the past few years. What were the driving factors that led the company to prioritize renewable energy solutions as a key aspect of its operations? What are some recent milestones?

Renewable energy is very important to the organization and it’s important to society. As a manufacturer of food, we know that we need power to operate and to get our products into transportation and into people’s hands. And to do that and meet climate goals, we want clean energy and we want to be very efficient on how we use it.

We’ve had some great milestones along the way, including securing enough renewable energy to offset the electricity that we consumed in the United States during Fiscal 2022. This was a big accomplishment, but we need to work hard to advance our renewable energy program. We have to be diligent about our power use and keeping green energy flowing to our facilities, including increasing the use of solar in our manufacturing plants and driving efficiency projects day in and day out.

As a veteran at Hormel Foods, you’ve witnessed many accomplishments in the company’s innovation journey. What innovations are you most proud of?

Watching the company grow since I joined the organization has been pretty inspirational, as well as seeing how innovation has touched our products, where we’ve introduced great new products that many consumers love. But it’s the innovation that touches people that is most impressive to me. We have all felt the positive effects of innovation in the way the company thinks about how we attract, retain and grow talent even in the most challenging of employment markets. The focus is still there to help our team members grow, no matter where they are on their personal and professional journey. And that’s really inspirational.

Is there anything you would like to add?

Hormel Foods as an organization has long been committed to innovation and its application, not only in our food products, but in our processes and in the way we develop our team members. That’s a very positive growth engine for the organization and will lead us into the future as a continued strong company with great products that consumers can rely on.