If you love turkey, you've probably been intimately introduced to Butterball -- at least at the dining room table on Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Butterball LLC exports 100 million pounds of turkey products each year, noted N.C. Commissioner of Agriculture Steve Troxler as he recently presented the company with the prestigious Exporter of the Year Award. He made the presentation at the Agricultural Development Forum in Raleigh, Jan. 31, during the Southern Farm Show.
That 100 million pounds of exports noted by Troxler adds up to about 15% of the North Carolina company's annual volume.
The Butterball turkey has long been a household name. It was introduced in 1954. The company website notes the name was coined to note the turkey's "plump, round shape." The company, established in 1985 in Mount Olive, N.C., was originally known as Carolina Turkeys. Today, the major processing plant in the Tarheel State is still in Mt Olive, with the corporate headquarters in Garner. Additional processing plants are now located in Arkansas and Missouri.
"The company is expanding to new markets in Asia, Africa, Russia and Central America and they've joined the central markets of Canada and Mexico," Troxler noted to the audience as he made his award presentation to company officials, Scott Singleton, international sales manager, and Joel Coleman, vice president and general manager of International Sales. "Butterball is one of the largest turkey providers in the world and the company has been exporting their products for more than 25 years … to over 50 countries.
Coleman accepted the award and made a few comments on behalf of Butterball.
"We own our breeder stock, hatchery, feed mill and processing plant facilities," he said. "We also own some company operated grow-out farms, but most of our farms are owned and managed by contract growers.
"We call it the process of being able to control from the farm to the plate. We at Butterball are proud to promote and sell our high quality turkey products around the world that are grown and produced right here in the great state of North Carolina."
He noted that the company has more than 4,000 employees in the state.