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|Headquarters||Moroni, Utah, United States|
Number of employees
- Ground Turkey Tray Pack
- Sweetheart Roast
- Sanpete BBQ
- Whole Turkey
- Tender Breast
- Turkey Sausage
- Turkey Ham
- Turkey Pastrami
- Turkey Deli
Norbest began in the early 1920s as a producer-owned marketing cooperative called Utah Poultry. In 1930 Utah Poultry, along with other related businesses from Utah, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Colorado, and Nevada, combined to form the first regional turkey marketing co-op in the United States. Its headquarters was established in Salt Lake City, Utah, on October 9, 1930. The new cooperative was known as the Northwestern Turkey Growers Association.
The objectives of the new association were to "produce and pack a higher grade of birds, to establish a known quality…to eliminate as much speculation as possible...and pack a product, using federal grades, of uniform standard quality that will command both respect and the confidence of buyers." In its first year of operations, the co-op had revenues of one million dollars on 3.5 million pounds of product; 125 million pounds are produced annually by Norbest today.
The Northwestern Turkey Growers Association was among the first to adopt federal grading standards. Throughout its second year of operation, Northwestern received a "Number One" grade, which proved to be a significant marketing advantage. Ever since, the co-op has adhered to the highest government and industry standards of quality. Today all Norbest branded whole birds are USDA Grade A — the highest grade possible.
A familiar trademark was needed to help consumers recognize the new co-op's products. Someone suggested "Norwest", short for Northwestern Turkey Growers Association. This was soon changed to "Norbest". The new brand proved so popular that after a few years the cooperative changed its name to "Norbest Turkey Growers Association", and later to Norbest, Inc.
Despite the Great Depression, Norbest stepped up promotional efforts. In 1936 Norbest hit a publicity jackpot with the presentation of a large turkey to President Franklin D. Roosevelt just before Thanksgiving. This holiday tradition continues today through annual presentations by the National Turkey Federation.
During World War II turkey became a mainstay of U.S. troops serving both at home and abroad. Norbest earned the Armed Forces Meritorious Services Award for Outstanding Performance in supplying the Quartermaster Corps.
After the war domestic demand for turkey lagged behind the production capacity built to cover wartime needs. Norbest researchers set about to improve the appeal of turkey as an everyday menu item. Norbest became an industry leader in improvements in breeding, growing, processing, and marketing of turkeys. It was the first marketing group to sell fully eviscerated, ready to cook turkeys. (Prior to this time turkeys were sold "New York Dressed", with the head, feet, and viscera still intact.)
During the following years, the whole bird business expanded, as did marketing of bone-in breasts and parts. Based on successful wartime experience, these was an international expansion, leading to the awarding in 1964 of the President's "E" award for excellence in exporting.
Recognizing the homemaker's need for more convenient products, Norbest again became the leader in new product development in the 1960s and 1970s. Norbest was first with the Tender-Timer pop-up cooking gauge that pops its stem at precisely the time when the turkey is done. Norbest also led the way with pre-basted turkeys and bone-in breasts, and with boneless roasts and other products.
Other product line extensions have followed over the years. Today Norbest offers a full line of raw and cooked further processed products including bone-in breasts and boneless roasts for both retail and foodservice; ground turkey; turkey steaks; cooked, roasted, and smoked deli breasts; turkey ham; and a host of other stuff.
Norbest products are sold throughout the United States as well as in Pacific Rim countries, Mexico, the Caribbean, and the Middle East.
Membership in the Norbest cooperative has changed a few times over the 69 years of its existence, as local farmer co-ops have merged, dissolved, or changed focus.