New this year from Garner, North Carolina-based category giant Butterball, the company has expanded its Farm to Family by Butterball offerings with a frozen no-antibiotics-ever whole turkey, says Rebecca Welch, senior brand manager.

“We launched our first Farm to Family fresh organic whole turkey in 2017, and this compliments that offering for those looking for the planning and purchasing convenience of a frozen turkey,” Welch says.

In addition, for the first time ever, Butterball is offering two readymade stuffing flavors as a pairing to a Butterball turkey. The stuffing is prepared from Butterball’s classic homestyle recipe, combining premium breadcrumbs, real turkey broth and classic ingredients like chopped celery, onion and butter or sausage, Welch says.

It comes in two flavors: Traditional Savory Herb and Cornbread with Turkey Sausage. Pre-packaged in an oven-ready tray, Welch says it offers made-from-scratch taste with none of the preparation or hassle—it goes straight from freezer to oven. The product is a limited time offer for the 2019 holidays and available at select retailers across the country.

The Butterball premium all-natural frozen whole turkey continues to reign supreme in the company’s product lineup, Welch says, but Butterball also offers a wide variety of whole turkey options.

“We’re starting to see changes in the way Thanksgiving is celebrated with new generations of cooks entering the kitchen,” she says. “Gatherings and cooking methods are more varied than they’ve historically been, and we’ve evolved our product offerings to meet these changing needs.”

From fresh whole turkeys, Butterball’s cook-in-bag Ready to Roast whole turkey and fully-cooked whole turkeys that cook in half the time, there’s a whole turkey option to suit any type of gathering, Welch says.

Butterball also offers no-antibiotics-ever turkeys and organic turkeys under its Farm to Family by Butterball brand and a variety of whole breast and breast roast products in our everyday lineup. 


Gen Z, millennials make their mark

One big Thanksgiving trend Butterball is seeing right now is the changing nature of celebrations. Responsibility for family traditions and holiday hosting, Welch says, is being handed to the next set of generations.

For instance, while millennials are expected to overtake boomers as the largest generation in 2019, Gen Xers are taking on more of the hosting duties that recently belonged to boomers.

“With this comes a slew of new trends and traditions to be made as hosts put their own stamp on the holiday,” Welch says. “For example, Americans are trying new recipes or adding cultural dishes, especially for the side dishes. In particular, our data shows that 30% of millennial hosts are interested in serving new and different foods, and that millennials are more likely to experiment with alternative ways to cook a turkey.”

Three out of 10, for instance, say they’ve tried a turkey fryer, a grill, and/or a smoker.

When and how many times people celebrate has changed, too, Welch adds, as “Friendsgiving” has become more popular.

“Our holiday survey indicates that 83% of those who celebrated at an alternative gathering last year, in addition to the Thanksgiving Day, intend to do so again.”


New and improved packaging

Godshall’s Quality Meats is revamping its turkey bacon packaging, making it easier for consumers to read.

“Our bacon hasn’t changed, we’re still producing the same real meat, real wood smoked turkey bacon that wins over pork bacon lovers at first taste,” says Godshall’s president, Ron Godshall. “We just realized that traditional packaging wasn’t showcasing what’s been amazing about our product all along.”

Godshall’s turkey bacon has 80% less fat than pork bacon, much less fat than most of the company’s competitors, even among turkey bacons, Godshall says.

“We’re also featuring our bacon’s 6 grams of protein packed into each slice, a terrific way to check a box that so many consumers are looking for.”

The packages also highlight that Godshall’s uses real wood to smoke its bacon. The new packaging began appearing on retail shelves in September.


Plant-based alternative

Plant-based specialist Before the Butcher is introducing the first plant-based turkey burgers to retail markets.

Before the Butcher’s UNCUT Roasted Turkey Burger join the company’s popular plant-based UNCUT Beef Burger and its award-winning UNCUT Breakfast Sausage Patty. The new product (there’s also a chicken version) will be in retail meat cases in late 2019.

“The variety of plant-based products we offer separates the UNCUT line from all other meat alternative options,” says Danny O’Malley, founder and president of Before the Butcher. “Our new chicken and turkey burger products provide delicious variations to the market, which has seen limited product choices despite explosive consumer demand and growth.”

As with all UNCUT products, Before the Butchers’s turkey burger is 100% plant-based, gluten-free, non-GMO, and made from a proprietary combination of soy, coconut and canola oils, with natural seasonings. Each serving contains 7 to 18 grams of plant protein, has significantly less sodium than other meatless burgers at just 150-200 grams, and delivers the flavor, texture and experience of traditional animal-based burger products.


A deli push

Cargill Protein is betting big on grocery deli, and new turkey products are among the expected star performers. Wichita, Kansas-based Cargill Protein's deli lineup now includes turkey dipper snacks and sliced turkey for prepared deli.

"Prepared foods/deli is an area that's growing, and one we look to expand in," says Cargill Protein's Scott Vinson.

And within deli, says the company's Katie Blick-White, grab-and-go, snacking and entertaining are among the strongest category performers.

The new Turkey Dippers are 3.75 oz packs that pair high-end turkey pieces with spinach dip, roasted garlic hummus or guacamole. Launched this fall, Vinson said Cargill Protein knows of no other product on the market like them. The product ships under the Honeysuckle White and Shady Brook Farms brands.

Turkey also appears in another new snacking option from Cargill Protein. The company is rolling out 2.5 oz premium sweet-and-savory packs in three versions: Oven-roasted Turkey Breast, Asiago and Yogurt-covered Granola Clusters; Genoa Salami, Provolone and Chocolate Pretzels; and Black Forest Ham and Dark Chocolate Dried Cherries.

The products meet increasing consumer demand for snacks that combine sweet and savory flavors, Blick-White said. Also new from Cargill Protein are bulk packs of sliced meats that retailers can repack for their deli grab-and-go cases, Vinson said. The program, designed to save retailers the time it takes to cut meats in-house, will focus on "heavy movers" like oven-roasted turkey, honey ham, black forest ham and roast beef, Vinson says.