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Behind the Business: Butterball Puts People First to Feed Communities During COVID-19

One feeling many North Carolinians can relate to during this pandemic is the feeling of anxiety that can set in as they stare at an empty grocery shelf – or an “out-of-stock” notice on an online order – while searching for something they once thought of as one of life’s basic staples. Fortunately, food producers like Butterball have always taken their responsibility to their customers seriously. And as federal guidelines have compelled these producers to remain open and keep our food supply going strong, Butterball has never wavered from its mission to provide consumers with the nutritious, affordable food they need.

Through it all, Butterball, the Garner-based poultry giant, has also remained focused on another mission: protecting the health of the company’s most important asset – its people. In recent months, Butterball has made great strides to flatten the curve in its plants and its communities. At its Mount Olive facility, for instance, the company has strengthened its already stringent safety protocols, enhancing cleaning processes for common areas and production floors and adding new social distancing measures like floor markers, workspace dividers, and face shields to protect frontline workers. The Mount Olive plant is also conducting daily temperature checks for all employees reporting to work. And similar safety strategies have been scaled across all of Butterball’s production facilities.

But safety measures aren’t the only priority the company is focused on. To show its team members how critical they are to its overall mission, Butterball has gone above and beyond to provide them with brand new benefits during COVID-19. These benefits include two monthly appreciation bonuses, continued pay for up to 80 hours for anyone unable to work due to COVID-19, and periodic appreciation gifts to let workers know how much their continued efforts are valued.

The truth is, the spread of COVID-19 has been the very definition of a “constantly evolving situation.” Essential producers like Butterball have been among the businesses facing the most urgent challenges as they work to evolve along with it. Months ago, Butterball decided to meet those challenges head on with the creation of a cross-functional COVID-19 task force made up of representatives spanning multiple divisions: executive leadership, human resources, occupational health and safety, communications, and operations.

Over the past two months, that team has met every morning to share differing perspectives and have the tough conversations needed to find a path forward. For Butterball, responding to COVID-19 has truly been a team effort – and one where people are always the top priority. It’s fitting that Butterball President and CEO Jay Jandrain summed this up perfectly in a public letter posted to the company’s website: “We are doing everything in our power to keep our facilities operating and producing the food you count on,” he stated; “And we will continue to aggressively pursue initiatives that best protect our teams while they are at work.”

Imagine, for a moment, if the next time you walked into your local grocery store you were met with the sight of bare shelves running along every aisle. Imagine the looks on the other customers’ faces as their anxiety turned to outright fear. Imagine your own sudden fear. We’ve been fortunate not to have faced that reality here in North Carolina – and for that, we have companies like Butterball, and the people who power them, to thank.

Behind each business in North Carolina are the ideas, partnerships and people that fuel our state’s success. Behind each business is a story and a vision for the future. As the voice for business, the NC Chamber is committed to telling these stories and highlighting the organizations and people that keep our state moving forward. Behind the Business is a series of profiles featuring NC Chamber Cornerstone members doing great work in North Carolina. Interested in being featured? Contact