Thursday, September 21, 2023

ERS: Turkey production numbers forecasted lower

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Export and import projections also released

By David B. Strickland

Poultry Times editor

WASHINGTON — Fourth quarter production of turkey in the U.S. is being forecast at 1.45 billion pounds, with a yearly total for 2020 estimated at 5.7 billion pounds, which is 1 percent lower than last year, the USDA Economic Research Service noted in its October “Livestock, Dairy and Poultry Outlook” report.

The 2021 forecast is being projected at 5.77 billion by the department, which is approximately a growth of 1 percent. The report added that third quarter forecast production numbers were revised up to 1.45 billion pounds based on production data.

“Turkey production in August totaled 474.3 million pounds,” the report said. “This is 5.3 percent lower than August of last year, but when adjusted for one less slaughter day in 2020 the decline is less than 1 percent. August placements totaled 20.6 million head, 9.2 percent below placements in August of 2019. As turkeys take 14-16 weeks to mature, August turkey-chick placements are the key predictor of the expected Thanksgiving production.”

On that note, USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service reports that turkey eggs in incubators on Oct. 1, 2020, were at 27 million, down 8 percent from last year. NASS adds that turkey eggs in incubators were up 4 percent from the Sept. 1 total of 26 million.

“Turkey poults hatched during September 2020 in the United States totaled 21.9 million, down 2 percent from September 2019. Poults hatched were down 3 percent from the August 2020 total of 22.5 million pounds,” NASS reports. “The 19.3 million net poults placed during September 2020 in the United States were down 4 percent from the number placed during the same month a year earlier. Net poult placements were down 8 percent from the August 2020 total of 21 million.”

Exports and imports

Exports of U.S. turkey in August reached 48 million pounds, of which 29.2 million pounds were shipped to Mexico, the ERS report notes.

“Exports to China made up 10 percent of shipments in August, totaling 4.8 million pounds,” ERS said. “The next largest destinations were Haiti, with 1.3 million pounds, and Peru and Canada, with 1.1 million pounds each.”

“Total exports are still behind 2019 levels, with the current year-to-date total only 86 percent of the total from January through August 2019,” the report added. “The 2020 total export forecast was increased by 10 million pounds … to 550 million pounds, a 14 percent decrease from 2019. The 2021 total export forecast was revised to 570 million pounds, which would represent a 4 percent growth over the 2020 forecast.”

The USA Poultry & Egg Export Council notes that cumulative turkey exports for the first 8 months of 2020 were 163,307 metric tons, which is a decrease of 14.3 percent from last year, adding that the export value was $370.3 million, which is down 14 percent.

The top six export markets for U.S. are Mexico, China, Canada, South Africa, Dominican Republic, Jamaica and Mexico, USAPEEC said, adding that Mexico accounts for 64.4 percent or approximately 105,138 metric tons.

“Industry sources said COVID-19 continues to be the main reason for reduced turkey exports,” USAPEEC added in its latest ‘Turkey Export Program’ report. “Labor shortages at production facilities in the U.S., production cuts and the lack of thigh and drum meat for the export market are increasing prices just as chicken and pork prices have decreased. Some markets have stopped importing products due to cold storage being at capacity. Foodservice demand is slow due to restaurants at limited capacity. Still, retail items such as ground turkey, whole birds, and other value-added products are growing in demand, particularly in Canada, Japan, Panama, Colombia and the Dominican Republic. China is expected to increase turkey purchases, even paying up to 15 percent higher premiums than chicken.”

For imports of turkey meat into the U.S., the totals were approximately 2.3 million pounds in August, the ERS report said. Canada shipped the most turkey to the U.S. with 1.4 million pounds in August but increases from Chile led to the August increase. The total of U.S. turkey imports for 2020, year-to-date, is about 13 million pounds, which is 4.2 million pounds more than the same time last year.


The price for wholesale turkey hens in September was at an average of $1.13.5 per pound, the ERS report noted.

“The September price was nearly 20 cents above that of last year,” ERS said. “The weekly price reached ($1.19) per pound in the week ending Oct. 2. This price is 29.5 cents above the same week last year and is the highest weekly price since late 2016. The fourth quarter price was revised up to ($1.12) on improved demand expectations.”

The prices for frozen whole-hens in 2020 have been maintaining levels more than a year ago, but wholesale prices for fresh toms have been decreasing, by about 50 cents less than 2019 in April and May 2020.

“Fresh tom parts are mostly destined for further processing, the capacity for which was likely disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic,” ERS added. “September prices for tom turkey breasts remain more than 25 cents below a year ago.”

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