As the U.S. turkey industry rebounds from the avian influenza outbreak of 2015, the pork industry should see increased competition at the deli meat case, one economist said.

Speaking at World Pork Expo on June 9, Steve Meyer, vice president, Express Markets Analytics, said that while turkey is typically a smaller competitor for pork when compared to beef and chicken, he expects to see more turkey deli meat sold at retail, which could cut into sales of ham and other pork products.


“Turkey breast prices of course were at a record high last year, but they’re back down below the pre-avian influenza levels on our forecast for these next few years. That has some impact on the deli side on meats, so they’ll be pretty competitive,” Meyer said.

Turkey flocks have been rebuilt since the 2015 avian influenza outbreak, although several flocks have been hit by the virus in 2016. In January, an outbreak of H7N8 avian influenza was detected in Dubois County, Indiana, affecting 257,163 turkeys. On April 30, a flock of 39,000 turkeys in Jasper County, Missouri, was affected by H5N1 avian influenza, with all birds in the flock being euthanized. However, the turkeys affected in the Missouri and Indiana outbreaks were very small when compared to the millions of turkeys lost in 2015.