Turkey specialist Butterball offers a variety of turkey sausage options for the grocery perimeter meat department, says Rebecca Welch, senior brand manager.
In the meat case, the company’s fresh Italian sausages — available in both hot and sweet varieties — are big sellers, she says. Butterball’s packaged goods portfolio, meanwhile, includes hardwood smoked, polska kielbasa and All Natural Uncured Smoked Turkey Sausage.
The company rounds out its sausage offerings with a line of breakfast sausages including all natural fully cooked patties and links and fresh and frozen raw breakfast sausage rolls.
In 2018, Butterball revamped the formulations of many of its sausage and other products to include more all-natural ingredient labels, minimal processing and updated packaging, Welch says.
“In addition to our fresh sausage, which has always been an all-natural option, we now offer an all-natural smoked sausage and fully-cooked breakfast sausages, which feature 60% less fat than pork sausage,” she says.
New this year, Butterball has changed the formulation of its fresh sausage to move to a plant-based casing rather than a pork casing in response to consumer requests for a pork-free sausage option. And the company isn’t done innovating in the category — Welch says to expect additional new turkey sausage products before the end of the year.
Turkey breakfast sausage is one of Butterball’s fastest-growing categories, Welch says. The success is due in large part to the proliferation of healthy turkey breakfast sandwich menu options from places like Starbucks.
“It’s showing a wider audience of consumers just how easy and delicious turkey is for breakfast,” she says. “The most common thing we hear from turkey consumers is that they want all-natural offerings that taste great to support their healthy lifestyle.”
Confirming that sentiment, a 2017 national consumer survey found that among all consumers who purchase turkey, more than one-third said all-natural is important to them when deciding what to buy.
“Butterball works to provide turkey consumers with delicious tasting options that also meet the USDA’s requirements for ‘natural products,’” Welch says. “Consumers are also very interested to know that animals are treated humanely.”
For that reason, Butterball relies on the American Humane Society for third-party auditing and certification. Products even have the American Humane Certified seal on the fronts of their packages.
Also on the fronts of many Butterball turkey sausage products are nutrition labels, a response to a greater demand for transparency.
“It’s a necessity for food companies to be transparent to customers,” Welch says. “We want to clearly communicate the most important product benefits right from the gate.”
As important as all-natural, transparency and other health and ethical concerns are, taste still reigns supreme when it comes to turkey sausage, Welch says.
“The most important must-have is a great-tasting product. At the end of the day, our sausage offers consumers what they want — a healthy protein with truly superior taste.”