Turkey a cheaper treat for this Thanksgiving

A 7.2kg turkey will cost about 1.6 per cent less than last year, according to an annual survey from the American Farm Bureau Federation.
A 7.2kg turkey will cost about 1.6 per cent less than last year, according to an annual survey from the American Farm Bureau Federation.PHOTO: AFP

NEW YORK (WASHINGTON POST) - There is plenty of turkey for second helpings this Thanksgiving.

Supplies will be plentiful after a recent production boom in the US.

Add that to stagnant US demand and you have the recipe for cheaper birds.

According to an annual survey from the American Farm Bureau Federation, a 7.2kg turkey will cost about 1.6 per cent less than last year, and the whole meal will be the cheapest since 2013.

Turkey demand almost doubled in the 1980s as Americans flocked to low-fat foods. Since then, per-capita disappearance - a proxy for consumption - has been fairly stable.

There is a market for deli meat and ground turkey while the bird's parts are less popular, said Mr Dewey Warner, a research associate with Euromonitor International in Chicago.

"Chicken is more culturally instilled in people," he added.

US production has climbed faster than demand in the past two years. While the worst-ever US bird-flu outbreak killed millions of birds in 2015, the epidemic has since abated.

"After avian influenza, the market actually overcorrected quite frankly and supply became excessive," said Mr Jay Jandrain, chief operating officer of Butterball, the North Carolina-based producer that sells about a third of all Thanksgiving and Christmas turkeys.

One of the industry's recent challenges has been surging production growth for beef, pork and chicken. Exports have helped to offset some of the expanding meat supply.

Still, China, once the second-largest turkey export market, has maintained a ban on American poultry imports since 2015.