Local News

Carolina Turkeys Switches Name To Butterball

Posted October 2, 2006

— Carolina Turkeys closed on its $325 million acquisition of Butterball Turkey on Monday and immediately changed its name to the better-known Butterball.

The new Butterball combines the resources of Carolina Turkeys and the former ConAgra Butterball line into the largest turkey producer in the United States.

The original Butterball was established in 1954.

The combined company's headquarters will remain in Mt. Olive and some jobs will be added there as other operations are consolidated, a spokesperson for the new Butterball said.

No layoffs are planned, and all production facilities operated by Carolina Turkeys and the old Butterball will remain open, the company said.

Butterball will produce 1.4 billion pounds of turkey, or 20 percent of U.S. production, this year, the new company said.

Carolina Turkeys, a joint venture between Maxwell Farms and Smithfield Foods, announced the acquisition of the Butterball brand earlier this summer.

"With the purchase of Butterball, we can immediately trim 10 years off the brand-building process and jumpstart our expansion efforts with the world's most revered turkey brand," said Keith Shoemaker, who was named on Monday as the chief executive officer of the new Butterball. "And although Carolina Turkeys will surely benefit from this acquisition, the primary beneficiary is our customer. Now we can offer customers the convenience and cost-savings of purchasing the best turkey brand and best commodity product from one single source."

Shoemaker was a president of a division of Smithfield Foods before taking the new post. He has also acted as Smithfield Food's managing partner in Carolina Turkeys.

Several members of the Butterball management team will transfer to Mt. Olive, the company said. However, it plans to keep the previous Butterball headquarters in Naperville, Ill., open "for the foreseeable future," the company added. Butterball employees at ConAgra's headquarters in Omaha, Neb., will transfer to either Illinois or North Carolina.

The two companies' sales and marketing forces will be merged.

Dan Blackshear, president of Carolina Turkeys since 1994, will act as president of sales and marketing for the new Butterball. Carolina Turkeys was founded in 1986. The Maxwell family of Goldsboro owned 51 percent of Carolina Turkeys. Smithfield Foods owned the remaining 49 percent.

The combined company will now have more than 5,700 employees in Duplin County, with 2,500 working for Carolina Turkeys.


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