Sale of Butterball not expected to change icon of Thanksgiving

US - When it comes time to talk turkey, generations of Thanksgiving chefs - confused, stressed and downright helpless in the face of their big, frozen bird - have turned to Butterball's Turkey Talk-Line for help.
calendar icon 21 November 2006
clock icon 2 minute read

This year isn't any different. At least, that's what Keith Shoemaker wants everyone to think. "They better not notice anything different," said Shoemaker, president and chief executive officer of Butterball LLC. "I told the staff I want this to be absolutely, positively seamless for the customer for the holiday period. I don't want them to think that anything's happened."

But for Butterball, which sold its first turkey in 1954, a lot has happened since last Thanksgiving. ConAgra Foods Inc., the Omaha, Neb.-based leader in packaged foods, sold the iconic brand and its turkey business to privately held Carolina Turkeys in October for $325 million. What was once the nation's fourth-largest turkey producer suddenly was No. 1, with 20 percent of the market.

And while customers might not notice a difference, having the Butterball name in hand has changed things at Mount Olive, N.C.-based Carolina Turkeys. The company is now called Butterball LLC, and after selling only to restaurants and grocery stores for decades, it no longer has to worry about developing a brand name as it expands its consumer business.

Source: Republican American

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