Phillip Minerich

x2013 Agribusiness

As vice president of research and development at Hormel Foods, Phil Minerich has led innovations in packaging, food technology and food safety during his 36-year career with this Minnesota Fortune 500 company.

A native of Cleveland, Ohio, Minerich received a bachelor's degree in food technology (1976) at The Ohio State University. He earned his master's (1990) and doctorate degrees (2002) in food science at the University of Minnesota.

Minerich started his career at Hormel Foods in the quality control department of the Austin, Minn., plant in 1976. After holding various supervisory positions, Minerich was named corporate manager of sanitation in 1983. In 1988 he joined the research and development division as a food technologist and in 1996 was promoted to research scientist of packaging. In 2003 Minerich was promoted to director of research and he became vice president of research and development in 2006.

Currently, Minerich oversees all product process and package development, applied research, microbiology, chemistry and sensory labs, thermal process development, and all food safety related research.

Two of Minerich's most important achievements are related to food safety and hunger relief. His work with high-pressure processing for packaged protein products dramatically increased the safety of sliced meat without using preservatives and resulted in the successful line of Hormel Foods "Natural Choice" brand. Also, his team developed a shelf-stable poultry spread called "Spammy," which is fortified with essential vitamins and can be easily mixed directly into any country's cultural diet.

Minerich's contributions have placed him among global leaders in ensuring the safety and quality of food products. He is recognized as a leader and expert in food safety across both the public health community and the food production industry. As one of his nominators summed up Minerich’s accomplishments: "Phil catalyzes scientific discovery and the application of technology to the real-world challenge of nourishing an ever-expanding population."