Thanksgiving turkeys should be plentiful affordable

Richard Bogren, Lavergne, Theresia  |  11/17/2015 3:48:43 AM

Fried turkey is a popular Thanksgiving menu item in Louisiana. (Photo by Mark Claesgens)

News Release Distributed 11/16/15

BATON ROUGE, La. – Louisiana shoppers should find plenty of turkeys in grocery stores for Thanksgiving, said LSU AgCenter poultry specialist Theresia Lavergne.

An outbreak of avian flu in portions of the Upper Midwest last winter and into June eliminated nearly 8 million turkeys from being raised for market, Lavergne said. And although the epidemic has passed, it caused a small downturn in this year’s turkey population.

“Turkeys that are raised for Thanksgiving are generally started in May and June,” she said. That means an estimated 3 percent to 4 percent decrease in the number of birds coming to market.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture reports 228 million turkeys available for market compared to 237.5 million last year. The number of turkeys in cold storage, however, is higher than the historic five-year average.

Stocks are higher for hens, which are primarily 15-16 pounds and sold to consumers, Lavergne said. The heavier males, or toms, weigh in at around 38 pounds and are used for commercial processing into deli meats or ground turkey.

“Some reports are that turkey prices may be 20 cents to 40 cents more per pound this year,” Lavergne said.

“Usually, grocers sell turkeys at special prices around Thanksgiving and use them as loss leaders, so consumers may not see any noticeable price increase,” she said.

Rick Bogren

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