Butterball, the largest turkey producer in the United States, is expanding its operations in Raeford, North Carolina, to include a new production line for turkey bacon products.
The company will add 50 jobs to its Raeford and Hoke County workforce, which currently totals more than 100. Butterball will invest nearly $20 million in the project.
The decision to expand is fueled by demand by diet-conscious consumers and growing popularity of turkey bacon, which Butterball stated contains fewer calories and saturated fat than traditional pork bacon.
“When Butterball opened the Raeford plant in 2015, we knew we had a great workforce and a state of the art facility, but the overall operation has exceeded our expectations,” said Barry Gum, Butterball chief financial officer. “Butterball appreciates the continued support of the City of Raeford, Hoke County, NC Southeast and the State of North Carolina. We are a proud North Carolina-based company and are excited about the opportunity to continue to grow our business within the state.”
Supporting Butterball’s Hoke County expansion will be two grants from the North Carolina Rural Infrastructure Authority (RIA). In October, the RIA unanimously approved $390,750 in Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding to assist in the installation of 4,900 linear-feet of 12” water main in support of Butterball’s new operations. Earlier in December, RIA members authorized a $500,000 Building Reuse Grant to help with the renovation of the company’s 244,950-square-foot. building, which was constructed in 1995. The Hoke County Board of Commissioners and the City of Raeford also are lending support to the expansion.
“Modern food manufacturing is the future of Raeford and many other communities across southeastern North Carolina,” said Jeff Etheridge, chairman of The Southeastern Partnership, which worked with Butterball in ironing out the project’s technical specifications. “These are good jobs paying solid wages in a global and largely recession-proof industry. Companies like Butterball are exceptional corporate residents who support the civic fabric of rural North Carolina,” said Etheridge, who is also a member of the Rural Infrastructure Authority.
Butterball’s history in Raeford
Butterball arrived in Hoke County in February 2015, assuming part of the operations formerly held by House of Raeford Farms.
“Butterball’s continued commitment to Hoke County highlights the strength of our consumer foods sector,” said Don Porter, director of Raeford/Hoke County Economic Development. “The company’s arrival here nearly three years ago has renewed excitement in our community, in addition to creating obvious economic momentum with these new jobs and investment dollars.”
The county’s unemployment rate as of October 2017 was 5.1 percent, Porter said, citing the most recent figures from the North Carolina Department of Commerce. “That’s down significantly from the 6.7 percent unemployment rate we had in October 2016.”