August 27, 2020
Minnesota's turkey producers not hit as hard as other poultry raisers during pandemic
Turkey producers in the state of Minnesota in the US have fared far better than other poultry producers in trying to stay afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic, University of Minnesota Extension researchers said in a new analysis of the poultry industry's impact on Minnesota, including its challenges and opportunities.
Minnesota, which has some 600 turkey farms, is the No. 1 producer of turkey in the US. About half of these farms are independent and the half are owned and operated in partnership with major processors.
"Egg producers who were producing eggs for restaurant use plummeted, while demand for eggs in the grocery store quadrupled overnight. Turkey really glided through this [pandemic] relatively unaffected", Brigid Tuck, senior economic impact analyst with the University of Minnesota Extension, was quoted as saying in a report by Bloomberg via twincities.com.
Tuck explained that most turkey get sold to delis, "which didn't necessarily see as much of an impact as some other types of establishments did".
Turkey producers also find a big market in school lunches, which continued to be served throughout the pandemic.
"(Turkey) markets were a little more stable, and processing capacity allowed a little more flexibility during the pandemic", Tuck said in the Bloomberg report.
But summer festivals and county fairs that have been scrapped due to the pandemic are markets that turkey producers are missing so that producers, according to Tuck, must be creative to full those gaps in business.
"[C]heck out food trucks and those sort of things", she advised.
Turkey producers also managed to escape much of the volatility their poultry-growing peers experienced partly because retail turkey demand increases later in the year, and closer to Thanksgiving.
"Seasonal purchasing is a major factor in poultry", Tuck noted.
Minnesota farmers produce about 40 million turkeys and 63.9 million broiler chickens, and laying hens produce 3.2 billion eggs. There are 4,175 poultry and egg farms in Minnesota that sell products.
Tuck said that based on their analysis, the average turkey farm in Minnesota generates $2.3 million in economic activity. The counties of Kandiyohi, Stearns and Morrison are the state's top turkey producers.
Turkey, chicken, and egg producers in Minnesota contributed $995 million in agricultural product sales to the economy in 2019, of which 64% was generated by turkey farmers.
Based on data from the US Department of Agriculture, 40 million turkeys worth $639 million were produced in Minnesota last year, compared with 63.9 million broiler chickens worth $189 million.