What is the Difference Between Butterball and Jennie O Turkey

When it comes to premium turkey brands, the debate often centers on Butterball vs Jennie-O Turkey. Both brands have their distinct features, histories, and offerings, making each unique in its own right. This article provides an in-depth look into their contrasts and similarities, helping consumers make an informed choice.

What is the Main Difference Between Butterball and Jennie-O-Turkey?

The main difference between Butterball and Jennie-O Turkey is that Butterball is often recognized for its strong brand presence during holiday seasons, especially Thanksgiving, and its consumer-focused initiatives like the Turkey Talk-Line. On the other hand, Jennie-O, a subsidiary of Hormel Foods Corporation, places a significant emphasis on health-conscious products, offering a range of lean and extra lean turkey products, and emphasizes its no-antibiotics-ever turkeys. While both brands prioritize quality, their market positioning and consumer engagement strategies set them apart.

What is Butterball and what is Jennie-O Turkey?

Butterball is one of the largest producers of turkey products in the U.S. Founded in 1954, the company has a rich heritage and has become synonymous with turkey, particularly during Thanksgiving. Butterball turkeys are known for their quality, taste, and tenderness, making them a popular choice for holiday meals. The company offers a variety of products including whole turkeys, ground turkey, and turkey deli meat.

Jennie-O Turkey is another leading brand in the turkey industry. Established in 1940 in Minnesota, Jennie-O is part of the Hormel Foods Corporation. The brand offers a wide range of turkey products, from whole turkeys to ground turkey, sausages, and burgers. Jennie-O emphasizes health-conscious offerings, with many of their products being lean or extra lean.

Key Differences between Butterball and Jennie-O Turkey

  1. Origins: Butterball was founded in 1954, while Jennie-O Turkey was established earlier in 1940.
  2. Parent Company: Jennie-O is a subsidiary of Hormel Foods Corporation, whereas Butterball operates as its own entity.
  3. Geographical Presence: Butterball is renowned across the U.S., especially in the Southeast. In contrast, Jennie-O, originating from Minnesota, has a strong Midwestern presence.
  4. Product Range: Both companies have a wide product range, but Jennie-O places a more significant emphasis on health-conscious offerings like lean and extra lean products.
  5. Marketing and Positioning: Butterball is often associated with holiday meals, especially Thanksgiving, due to its extensive marketing efforts. Jennie-O focuses on everyday meals and healthier alternatives.
  6. Feedback Mechanisms: Butterball offers a Turkey Talk-Line, a helpline for consumers with questions about cooking turkeys. Jennie-O does not have a similar dedicated service.
  7. Taste and Texture: While taste is subjective, some consumers claim Butterball turkeys are more tender and juicy, whereas others prefer the leaner taste of Jennie-O.
  8. Certifications and Practices: Jennie-O emphasizes their no-antibiotics-ever turkeys, whereas Butterball highlights its American Humane Certified farms.

Key Similarities between Butterball and Jennie-O Turkey

  1. Core Product: Both companies primarily focus on producing and selling turkey products.
  2. Market Leadership: Both brands are among the top leaders in the U.S. turkey industry.
  3. Product Offerings: Both offer a wide range of products, including whole turkeys, ground turkey, deli meats, and more.
  4. Commitment to Quality: Both Butterball and Jennie-O emphasize the quality of their products, ensuring that their turkeys are raised and processed to high standards.
  5. Consumer Engagement: Both brands are active in engaging with their consumers through various marketing campaigns, recipes, and tips.
  6. Innovation: Both companies are continuously innovating, introducing new products and flavors to meet evolving consumer demands.

Pros of Butterball over Jennie-O Turkey

  1. Branding and Recognition: Butterball is often more widely recognized, particularly during holiday seasons like Thanksgiving due to its longstanding presence and marketing strategies.
  2. Consumer Assistance: Butterball’s Turkey Talk-Line is a unique offering, providing hands-on assistance to consumers, especially during peak turkey-cooking times.
  3. Tenderness and Juiciness: Some consumers feel that Butterball turkeys are inherently more tender and juicy compared to some other brands.
  4. Farm Certifications: Butterball emphasizes its American Humane Certified farms, ensuring ethical treatment of its turkeys.
  5. Versatility in Product Range: Butterball offers a broad range of products, catering to various culinary needs from whole turkeys to deli meats and more.
  6. Availability: Due to its brand strength, Butterball products might be more readily available in certain regions, especially during peak seasons.

Cons of Butterball compared to Jennie-O Turkey

  1. Health-Conscious Offerings: Jennie-O places a more substantial emphasis on health-conscious products, offering more lean and extra lean products than Butterball.
  2. Antibiotic Practices: Jennie-O emphasizes their no-antibiotics-ever turkeys, a point of contention for health-conscious consumers.
  3. Parent Company Resources: As a subsidiary of the Hormel Foods Corporation, Jennie-O might have access to broader resources and distribution networks.
  4. Regional Preferences: While Butterball has significant recognition, Jennie-O, with its Midwestern roots, may resonate more with consumers in certain regions.
  5. Price Points: Depending on the region and specific product, Jennie-O might offer more competitive pricing in some segments.
  6. Innovation in Health Offerings: Jennie-O often introduces new health-conscious products and flavors, potentially catering better to an audience looking for healthier turkey alternatives.

Pros of Jennie-O Turkey over Butterball

  1. Health-Conscious Focus: Jennie-O offers a significant number of lean and extra lean products, catering to health-conscious consumers.
  2. Antibiotic-Free Offerings: Jennie-O highlights its no-antibiotics-ever turkeys, appealing to consumers concerned about antibiotic use in food production.
  3. Parent Company Strength: Being a subsidiary of Hormel Foods Corporation, Jennie-O can leverage broader resources and distribution networks.
  4. Innovative Products: Jennie-O consistently introduces new health-conscious products and flavors, meeting the evolving needs of today’s consumers.
  5. Regional Authenticity: With its origins in the Midwest, Jennie-O resonates well with consumers in certain regions, offering a taste of home.
  6. Competitive Pricing: In some regions or product segments, Jennie-O might offer more attractive price points.

Cons of Jennie-O Turkey compared to Butterball

  1. Brand Recognition during Holidays: Butterball often outshines Jennie-O in terms of brand recognition, especially during the Thanksgiving season.
  2. Consumer Helpline: Butterball’s Turkey Talk-Line provides direct support to consumers, a service that Jennie-O doesn’t offer in the same capacity.
  3. Perceived Quality: Some consumers believe that Butterball turkeys are more tender and juicy based on personal experience and preferences.
  4. Ethical Certifications: Butterball highlights its American Humane Certified farms, which could appeal to consumers looking for ethically treated turkeys.
  5. Product Availability: In certain regions or during peak seasons, Butterball might have wider availability due to its brand strength.
  6. Historical Presence: Butterball’s longer-standing presence in the market might resonate with consumers who have longstanding traditions or brand loyalties.

Situations when Butterball is better than Jennie-O Turkey

  1. Holiday Traditions: When consumers have a long-standing family tradition of using Butterball for holiday meals, especially Thanksgiving.
  2. First-Time Turkey Cooks: For those unsure about cooking techniques, Butterball’s Turkey Talk-Line can provide real-time assistance.
  3. Ethical Considerations: For consumers who prioritize the ethical treatment of animals, Butterball’s emphasis on its American Humane Certified farms can be a deciding factor.
  4. Taste and Texture Preference: If individuals or families have a preference for a juicier and more tender turkey based on past experiences.
  5. Brand Loyalty: For those who’ve always purchased Butterball and appreciate its consistent taste and quality.
  6. Wider Availability: In regions where Butterball has a stronger distribution network or during peak seasons.

Situations when Jennie-O Turkey is better than Butterball

  1. Health-Conscious Meals: For meals where the focus is on lean meat, Jennie-O’s range of lean and extra lean products can be ideal.
  2. Antibiotic Concerns: When consumers prioritize antibiotic-free meat, Jennie-O’s no-antibiotics-ever turkeys can be the go-to choice.
  3. Budgetary Concerns: In instances where Jennie-O might offer a more competitive price for a similar product.
  4. Diverse Product Exploration: For those wanting to try innovative turkey-based products, given Jennie-O’s regular introduction of new items.
  5. Regional Preferences: For consumers in regions where Jennie-O has a historical or cultural significance, or a stronger presence.
  6. Supporting Larger Corporations: Given that Jennie-O is a subsidiary of the Hormel Foods Corporation, supporting its products might indirectly support the larger conglomerate’s initiatives.


What is the primary region of turkey farming for Butterball and Jennie-O?
Butterball primarily operates in the U.S., especially in North Carolina, Missouri, and Arkansas. Jennie-O, on the other hand, has its roots in Minnesota, with a significant portion of its turkey farming happening in the Midwest.

Are there any preservatives used in Butterball or Jennie-O turkeys?
Both brands offer products that are free from artificial preservatives. However, it’s always best to check the packaging or product description for specific details.

How do the brands handle animal welfare?
Butterball places emphasis on its American Humane Certified farms, ensuring ethical treatment. Jennie-O also prioritizes animal welfare but details can be found through their parent company, Hormel Foods Corporation’s policies.

Do both brands offer organic turkey options?
Both Butterball and Jennie-O have ventured into the organic market, but availability might vary based on the region and specific product.

How do the seasoning and flavor profiles differ between the two brands?
While both brands offer seasoned and unseasoned variants, specific flavor profiles can vary. Butterball is often associated with traditional and rich flavors, whereas Jennie-O might introduce innovative seasonings in line with health-conscious trends.

Can I find both brands internationally?
While Butterball and Jennie-O are primarily U.S.-centric brands, some of their products might be available in international markets through specialty stores or importers. Availability will vary based on the country and region.

Butterball vs Jennie-O Turkey: Final Thoughts

The choice between Butterball and Jennie-O Turkey largely depends on individual preferences, priorities, and specific requirements. Whether you lean towards health-focused offerings or tend to favor brand recognition, understanding the intricacies of each brand can aid in making an optimal decision for your culinary endeavors.

Feature/AspectButterballJennie-O Turkey
OriginsFounded in 1954Founded in 1940
Parent CompanyStandalone entityHormel Foods Corporation
Consumer AssistanceTurkey Talk-LineNot as prominent
Health-Conscious FocusLess emphasisLean & extra lean focus
Antibiotic PracticesNot highlightedNo-antibiotics-ever
Ethical CertificationsAmerican Humane Certified farmsNot highlighted
ProsBrand recognition, Tenderness, Ethical farmsHealth-focused, Antibiotic-free, Innovation
ConsLess health-focused offeringsLesser holiday brand recognition
Situations FavoringHoliday traditions, First-time turkey cooksHealth-conscious meals, Antibiotic concerns
SimilaritiesCore product, Product offerings, QualityCore product, Product offerings, Quality

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