During the past three decades, the turkey industry has experienced tremendous growth in the U.S. Turkey production has more than tripled since 1970, with a current value of over $7 billion. Turkey was not a popular dish in Europe until a roast turkey was eaten on June 27, 1570, at the wedding feast of Charles XI of France and Elizabeth of Austria. The King was so impressed with the birds that the turkey subsequently became a popular dish at banquets held by French nobility.
The most popular turkey product continues to be the whole bird, with heavy demand at Thanksgiving and Christmas. The primary breeders maintain and develop the quality stock, concentrating on growth and conformation in males and fecundity in females, as well as characteristics important to general health and welfare. Turkey producers include large companies that produce turkeys all year round, and relatively small companies and farmers who produce turkeys primarily for the seasonal Thanksgiving market.
Prices - The average monthly price received by farmers for turkeys in the U.S. in 2007 rose by +9.1% yr/yr to a record high of 52.0 cents per pound. The monthly average retail price of turkeys (whole frozen) in the U.S. in 2007 rose +3.8% yr/yr to a record high of 115.0 cents per pound. Turkey prices have more than tripled from the low 40-cent area seen in the early 1970s.
Supply - World production of turkeys in 2007 rose by +1.1% yr/yr to 4.882 million metric tons, mildly below the record high of 5.018 posted in 2002. World production of turkeys has grown by more than two and one-half times since 1980 when production was a mere 2.090 million metric tons. The U.S. is the largest producer of turkeys in the world by far with 2.565 million metric tons of production in 2007 which is 53% of world production. The value of U.S. turkey production in the U.S. in 2006 was $3.551 billion.
Demand - World consumption of turkeys in 2007 rose by +0.1% to 4.716 million metric tons, which will be mildly below the record high of 4.788 million metric tons posted in 2002. U.S. turkey consumption of 2.281 million metric tons in 2007 accounted for 48% of world consumption. U.S. per capita consumption of turkeys in 2007 rose +2.4% yr/yr to 17.3 pounds per person per year. U.S. per capital consumption of turkeys has been in the range of 17-18 pounds since 1990, but the USDA is projecting that per capita consumption will drop somewhat.