Yesterday, we heard from Joel Brandenburger, president of the National Turkey Federation on availability of the holiday bird for the Thanksgiving Day feast. But, as Brandenburger explains, with the focus on healthy eating habits, turkey has gone from primarily a fourth quarter product to a year-around product:
“Here is a very telling statistic: from 1970 to today, turkey consumption annually in the US has a bit more than doubled from about 8 pounds per capita to almost 17 pounds today. Yet, during that same period, the way turkey is consumed, has changed radically. In 1970 more than half of all the turkey consumed in the US was in the form of a whole bird in the last quarter of the year. Today, its barely 1/3 of all turkey consumption.”
But, make no mistake, Brandenburger says turkey consumption is at it’s highest in the fourth quarter, with 88% of households having a whole bird at thanksgiving.
And of course, increased turkey consumption means increased turkey production:
“Production now is up to about 5.5 billion pounds of ready to eat turkey meat per year. That is about 250 million turkeys per year. We are also exporting a lot more turkey.”
With retail pork and beef prices expected to rise exponentially in the months ahead due to the corn shortage created by the Midwestern drought, Brandenburger says turkey should continue to be a good protein value:
“I think smart shoppers who are looking for a healthy nutrient dense protein can find turkey to be a good bargain. Some of the same pressures that you see on beef and pork will apply to our members as well. Consumers can alos check out www.eatturkey.com and learn more ways to prepare turkey.”
Future beef and pork production is a big question mark due to those high feed prices and herd liquidation that’s taken place since last summer, but Brandenburger says he little, if any difference in turkey production for 2013:
“I think it will remain level. I would not be surprised to see a small decrease in 2013. Across the industry as a whole a 1-2% drop in production would not be unrealistic due to feed prices being high until next summer. Some of the export markets could remain strong and that could help to affect things.”
President of the National Turkey Federation, Joel Brandenburger.