Garner-Headquartered Butterball featured in TBJ
By Dane Huffman
The holidays are still months away, but at Butterball, turkeys are a year-round obsession. And getting consumers to think about eating turkey, and turkey products, more often is now the mission of a new hire, and new position, at Garner-based Butterball.
Jeff Mundt joined Butterball in July as vice president of research and development and innovation after a long career in, of all things, chocolate. Mundt had worked at Mars and then at The Hershey Company when he saw the job at Butterball on LinkedIn.
Butterball has 114 employees at its headquarters. Of its retail business, which is a key revenue line but not its only business, season items make up about 45 percent of total tracked sales.
His hire is part of an the largest brand overhaul in Butterball’s history.Butterball found “the product wasn’t as relevant with consumers as it had been before,” Chief Marketing Officer Bill Klump says. So the company created a new position, and new team, to develop new opportunities.
Mundt majored in chemistry at East Stroudsburg University and then got a master’s in food science and nutrition at Rutgers University and an MBA from New York University. He’d been at Hershey’s looking at ways to showcase chocolate and leverage new technologies.
Mundt says the goal was to make chocolate a “permissible indulgence.”
“All you have to do is make it look a little less guilty,” he says.
But this job, he says, was a bigger scope and “very meaty.” “I’m going to create a capacity there that didn’t exist in a defined form. That sounded incredibly appealing,” he says.
The key, Mundt says, will be grasping how people relate to the brand, including millennials.
“How do we become even more meaningful? ... The ultimate deliverable is a pipeline
of products that span out three to five years,” he says.
“It will put us in a pretty good place. We won’t have to be reactive any more.”