Wednesday, November 21, 2007


Is the turkey business competitive?
Ron Wells: It really is. You'd think with all the emphasis on eating healthier that this would be a growing market, but turkey consumption is relatively flat, so the competition remains fierce.

What kind of role does the CIO play at Butterball?
Wells: More and more it is a very strategic role. I'll give the Reader's Digest version of what we've been through over the last couple of years: We had a huge SAP project that went live two years ago this October. It went very well for us. We're running SAP for almost everything. One reason for that project was to help us grow. We took a look at the systems we had that were homegrown. They worked very well, but the company wanted more of a platform for growth. How prophetic. On the first anniversary of the SAP go-live, we became Butterball LLC.

We acquired Butterball, but we're smart enough to take that name. Our company had been on a mission to grow a name brand. That's very costly. After many years, if you get 20% name recognition you've done good. So, kind of overnight, we doubled in size.

How do you figure out what you're going to be selling?
Wells: There is a lot of forecasting involved. What made this year particularly interesting for us -- and we have a lot to be thankful for this year -- is that Butterball had no IT systems of its own. They were part of ConAgra. When we acquired them, we were paying ConAgra a service agreement to maintain those systems until we could cut the systems over. What our SAP system allowed us to do was to implement all the HR payroll pieces in three months, purchasing in four and the whole order-to-cash process in five months. You know, I wouldn't recommend it. It was a really, really aggressive schedule.

Our goal was to get solid before the holiday season -- so we're thrilled with the real good fill rates, good customer service. We've had no major problems through this holiday season on our systems. That's what we're most thankful for this Thanksgiving.

How did an IT staff of 25 get the implementation done so quickly?
Wells: We were very fortunate. As a company we made the decision not to customize, not go best of breed. Deloitte Consulting had assisted SAP with a food and beverage solution -- a pre-configuration of SAP. We were able to get several people that had been in Germany on that team that had developed it. They really understood the business well. The difference was tremendous [compared] with consultants who come in and we have to explain issues in the meat industry, like catch weight, freshness, product rotation. These guys came in, they already knew it: "Here's issues you're going to have; here's how we're going to work around it." It was just a very good implementation.

Does the company work directly with farmers -- do you go from farm to table?
Wells: That's another interesting difference between Carolina Turkeys and the Butterball business. Carolina is actually owned by the growers…. What was really neat about the acquisition [of Butterball] was that Carolina Turkeys' world was all about further processed products. I would not say we did absolutely no Thanksgiving whole birds, but they were a very, very small part of our business. Butterball, on the other hand, is the name brand for that. And when we put our top 20 customers and their top 20 customers together, there is something like two that overlap. So it is a tremendous synergy here.

I don't think of farmers as people who spend a lot of time in front of the computer. Is there a culture clash between the farmers and a 21st century purveyor using SAP?
Wells: Times have changed. Everyone is now more technologically savvy, and understands the benefits of good systems and processes.

What about the famous Butterball Turkey-Talk line? Does IT have anything to do with that?
Wells: That was one of the many parts of the conversion. ConAgra had hosted the Web site, and they did a really super job on the Talk line. That was a big marketing push. Unfortunately it was hosted on a ConAgra mainframe. We had to supply new systems for that. We had to vacate the [ConAgra] facility and move down the street a few blocks. We had to migrate all of the tie lines, all of the phone lines, all the feeds they have for media that comes for media day. You'll probably see the Talk-Line on a national TV show. All of that stuff had to be redone -- so all new phone lines, new phone system. It was an incredible effort.

As a matter of fact, I went and visited the Talk-Line last year when it was in operation. We just wanted to see what we were inheriting and what we were going to have to support. It's just really cool. Some of these ladies have been doing it for 20 years.

I have to ask some Thanksgiving Day questions: Do you get a free turkey?
Wells: Yes, we sure do, and they are Butterball.

And the Friday after Thanksgiving -- do you get to snooze?
Wells: It's a workday. So, if we take a vacation day, yeah, we get to.

Is there anything more about IT's role at the company that should be dished up?
Wells: As we started down the road of SAP, it really drove home the point that IT cannot be an afterthought as we move our business forward.
The Thanksgiving turkey is thawing nicely in the fridge, and Thursday's feast will feature the beautifully roasted bird in all its holiday glory. Friends and family will fill their plates and enjoy a bountiful Thanksgiving meal.

A turkey sandwich with all the fixings is enhanced by cranberry mayonnaise (mayo mixed with cranberry-orange relish) at Sweet & Savory Cafe, 9840 Michigan Road. - Rob Goebel / The Star

Thanksgiving factoids

A few Thanksgiving statistics to chew on from the U.S. Census Bureau and the National Turkey Federation:
• Preliminary estimate of the number of turkeys raised in the United States this year -- 272 million.
• Number of U.S.-raised certified organic turkeys, as of 2005 -- 144,086.
• Last year's top turkey processor, with 1,349 million pounds -- Butterball.
• Last December's average cost per pound of a typical frozen whole turkey -- 99 cents.
U.S. cranberry production forecast for 2007 -- 690 million pounds.

By phone or online
Need a bit of Thanksgiving advice? Get help from these holiday hotlines and Web sites.
• USDA's Meat and Poultry Hotline: (888) 674-6854. Get expert advice from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays; Thanksgiving hours are 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. For advice on the Web. consult the Food Safety and Inspection Service's virtual rep, "Ask Karen," at and click on Food Safety Education.
• Butterball Turkey Talk-Line: (800) 288-8373. Consult the Butterball turkey experts Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.; 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thanksgiving Day.

• Betty Crocker: (888) 275-2388. Ask Betty -- or one of her staff members -- your baking questions from 8:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. weekdays. www.betty
• Ocean Spray: (800) 662-3263. Cranberry questions are answered from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays, including Thanksgiving.


And then what?
The typical American eats more than 13 pounds of turkey each year, and much of that will no doubt come this week as we pile our plates with a generous serving -- or two or three -- of turkey and all the trimmings.
But after the big dinner and a sandwich later, another round of reheated leftovers looks less and less appealing. By Friday night -- Saturday at the latest -- post-holiday cooks realize they have to do something, anything, with all those leftovers.
According to the National Turkey Federation, the most popular ways to serve up leftover Thanksgiving turkey are in sandwiches, soups and stews, salads, casseroles and stir-frys.
Local caterer and cafe owner Melissa Mudd would agree -- and add a few more categories as well.
She and husband Shawn own Sweet & Savory, a cafe, bakery and catering service at 9840 Michigan Road, and the holiday offers them plenty of opportunities to get creative with Thanksgiving leftovers. They'll be roasting turkeys for customers all morning on Thursday.
"I get asked about leftovers a lot," she said. "People get sick of turkey really fast."
Beyond another slice of turkey topped with mashed potatoes and gravy -- or the ubiquitous turkey sandwich with mayo -- what can you do with all those leftovers?
"You can always go the route of pot pies," said Mudd. "We use roasted vegetables, and you just throw everything in."
But instead of topping it with a pie crust, said Mudd, aim to use up even more leftovers.
"Use your leftover mashed potatoes instead of a pastry crust," she said.
While delicious, Mudd said, a turkey pot pie still features all those traditional Thanksgiving flavors. She often prefers to use leftovers in a completely different dish, "so you're not having the same meal again and again."
To combat the sameness of typical leftovers, Mudd developed a recipe for Puer- to Rican Turkey Chowder, which uses diced tomatoes, Anaheim chilies, cumin and tomatillos in addition to the leftover turkey. "It doesn't have any of those Thanksgiving flavors," she said.
Her recipe for Turkey Florentine Soup, with its spinach, Parmesan and heavy cream, also avoids being a typical turkey soup. "I love a chicken Florentine casserole," said Mudd, "and we turned that into a soup."
Mudd also uses spinach, tomatoes, portobellos and Provolone in a day-after-Thanksgiving breakfast dish, Turkey Leftover Frittata.
"We came up with a breakfast frittata for the morning after that we tried and really liked," she said.
But it's not just turkey that will be sitting in the fridge waiting to be transformed. Those who bake a holiday ham instead of, or in addition to, the Thanksgiving turkey can easily turn leftovers into ham salad to top crackers or croissants, said Mudd.
"It's one of my favorite things," she said. "I'm from the South, and we make everything into a salad. Spiral sliced ham makes a really good ham salad."
Admittedly, some of those plastic refrigerator containers hold a challenge for even the most creative cooks. It can be tough to find a creative way to use up sweet potatoes, said Mudd, beyond simply mashing them for pie or sweet- potato casserole. But leftover whole roasted sweet potatoes can be diced and tossed with roasted and diced Yukon Gold potatoes.
Cranberries, with a sweet-tart taste that pairs well with meats as well as fruits and baked goods, may be among the easiest leftover to use.
A simple sandwich topping, Mudd said, can be made by mixing a tablespoon of cranberry sauce with a tablespoon of mayonnaise. But she especially likes Apple Cranberry Crisp, a tasty dessert or breakfast treat that can be made with whole fresh or frozen cranberries or leftover cranberry sauce.
Cranberry sauce can also be added to muffins or scones. "I'll just fold it into our basic muffin batter," Mudd said.
Leftover canned pumpkin can also be added to muffins, said Mudd, noting that she often adds molasses and chocolate chips to pumpkin muffins. "I like them with white chocolate, too." November 22, 2007 - After 27 years and nearly 3 million calls, the Butterball Turkey Talk-Line (1-800-BUTTERBALL) experts continue to be a trusted resource, answering questions and offering tips to make holiday turkey preparation easy.

Related Links
Get Desktop Alerts
Get ABC7 Newsletters
Staffed with more than 50 seasoned home economists and turkey experts (Spanish and English) during November and December, the Butterball Turkey Talk-Line is available for first-time cooks and seasoned pros alike. Visit for great regional recipes, tips, how-to videos and turkey calculators.

Thawing: Thawing is the #1 question received at the Butterball Turkey Talk-Line o Use the refrigerator to thaw, allow at least one day of thawing in the refrigerator for every four pounds of turkey. Fresh turkeys don't need to be thawed.
o If short on time, submerge the turkey in cold water; Leave the bird in the wrapper, place it in a tub or sink of cold water and allow 30 minutes of thaw time for every pound of turkey.
o Thawing the turkey at room temperature is not recommended as it could promote bacterial growth.

Turkey Prep:
Before roasting, turn the turkey's wings back to hold the neck skin in place. This levels the turkey in the roasting pan to encourage even cooking, and with the wings out of the way, makes carving easier. Prepare stuffing just before placing in the turkey, using only cooked ingredients. Loosely stuff neck and body cavities of completely thawed turkey and do not tightly pack stuffing into turkey.

Butterball recommends the open-pan roasting method to consistently create a tender, juicy and golden-brown turkey. Americans agree62 percent of people reported they prepare their Thanksgiving turkey in an open pan. Use a shallow pan about 2 to 2½ inches deep and cook in a 325 degree conventional oven. Use a flat rack to raise the turkey off the bottom of the pan.

Brush the turkey lightly with oil or spray the turkey with a cooking spray before putting it in the oven.

Use the following roasting schedule as a guide for cook time for an open pan in a 325 degree conventional oven. Start checking for doneness 1/2-hour before recommended end times for a picture-perfect turkey:

Net Weight (in pounds)
Stuffed (in hours)

Net Weight (in pounds)
Stuffed (in hours)

10 to 18
3-3/4 to 4-1/2
22 to 24
5 to 5-1/2

18 to 22
4-1/2 to 5
24 to 30
5-1/2 to 6-1/4

Place a piece of lightweight foil loosely over the breast and top of the drumsticks when the turkey is 2/3 done to prevent overcooking the breast when using the Open Pan method.

Always use a meat thermometer to determine when the turkey is fully cooked. Temperatures should reach 180 degrees Fahrenheit in the thigh and 165 degrees Fahrenheit in the center of the stuffing.

Not sure exactly where that thermometer should go to get an accurate reading? Insert the meat thermometer deep into the lower part of the thigh muscle, but not touching the bone.

Knowing when the turkey is done and carving tips:

o The turkey is done when the meat thermometer registers 180 degrees in the thigh and the juices no longer run pink.
o Let turkey stand 15 minutes before carving. This allows the turkey juices to set and stuffing temperature to rise to an ideal temperature.
o Use a freshly sharpened, straight knife to make carving hassle-free.
o Warm serving plates in the dishwasher just before carving the turkey to keep food warm when serving a big crowd.
o Call 1-800-BUTTERBALL with any questions or visit for carving videos and instruction.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Butterball is a brand of turkey and other poultry products produced by Butterball LLC, a joint venture of Smithfield Foods and Maxwell Farms.[1]

The brand has existed for over fifty years and has been the top-selling brand of turkey in the United States for over forty years. Contrary to popular belief Butterball does not inject their turkeys with butter. The Butterball name comes from the breed of turkey they use which is white-feathered with broad breasts.

The name Butterball was originally registered as trademark #378,438 on June 11, 1940 by Ada Walker of Wyoming, Ohio. Leo Peters purchased the trademark in February of 1951. Leo Peters licensed the name to Swift and Co. for 10 years before selling it in the 60's. Peters sold the name "Butterball" to Swift and Co. which was later acquired by ConAgra, but retained rights to the use of the name for his butter products and the company he founded which is still in operation today: Butterball Farms, Inc.

In October 2006, ConAgra's Butterball branded turkey business was sold to North Carolina based Carolina Turkeys, which renamed itself Butterball LLC.[1]

Among numerous other brands, English-bred Butterball turkeys are sold in the United Kingdom during Christmas time, for the Christmas feast.

According to Butterball, the following products are sold under the Butterball name:[2]

whole turkeys
turkey cuts
cold cuts
marinated bone-in, boneless and whole chickens
rotisserie chickens
frozen chicken
gravy mixes
In addition, Butterball Farms sells decoratively formed butter under the Butterball name.[3]

1 Turkey Talk-Line
2 References
3 Notes
4 External links

[edit] Turkey Talk-Line
Beginning in late 1981, Butterball has maintained a toll-free telephone line called the Turkey Talk-Line to help customers with various cooking difficulties and questions. Eleven thousand people called in 1981, and in recent years the number has grown to over 200,000 each holiday season. Each of the operators holds a degree in either dietetics or home economics, roughly half of which are Masters-level. The most frequent question asked is how long a turkey takes to defrost.

In The West Wing, series 3, episode 51, President Josiah Bartlet calls the number (referred to as the "Butterball Hotline" in the script) to discuss stuffing and cooking his Thanksgiving turkey.

[edit] References
^ USA Today: Sale of Butterball turkey business not expected to change Thanksgiving icon
^ Turkey Products|Butterball
^ Butterball Farms product page

[edit] Notes
Taylor, Rod - "Backward Glance: Talking Turkey", PROMO Magazine, November 2004

[edit] External links
Butterball, LLC - Turkey Purveyor
Butterball Farms, Inc. - Butter Purveyor
This article about a food and/or confectionery corporation or company is a stub. You can help Wikipedia by expanding it.

™®This brand-name food or drink product article is a stub. You can help Wikipedia by expanding it.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home