Top US turkey producers growing amid challenging market
While production grew in total, some leading turkey companies scaled back production in 2017 and will scale back further in 2018, according to WATT PoultryUSA’s Top Poultry Company rankings.
Overall turkey production grew production in 2016 and 2017, according to WATT Poultry USA’s 2018 Top Poultry Company rankings. However, a number of top U.S. turkey producers are planning on reducing pounds of live turkeys produced in 2018.
Read the entire report about the top U.S. turkey companies exclusively in the March issue of WATT PoultryUSA.
The largest 22 turkey producers in the U.S. increased production of live turkeys by 163 million pounds, or 2.24 percent, in 2017. In total, US turkey companies produced 7.433 billion pounds. In 2016, the total was 7.270 billion pounds.
Eight of the 14 companies that shared projections for 2018 said they plan on reducing production levels in the coming year. Those 14 companies said they collectively plan on decreasing production by 33 million live pounds of turkeys in 2018.
Oversupply situation forcing reduction for some
In 2017, Hormel Foods Corp. CEO Jim Snee spoke about an oversupply situation hampering the U.S. turkey market. The market was rocked in 2015 by the highly pathogenic avian influenza outbreak and subsequent loss of about 8 million turkeys, but it recovered in 2016. In February 2017, the leader of Jennie-O Turkey Store’s parent company said the industry was in an oversupply situation and that turkey prices – such as breast meat – fell to a seven-year low.
In November 2017, Snee said “a lot of the turkey industry is operating near break-even.” To address the situation, Jennie-O dialed back production – its total pounds of live turkeys dropped to 1.215 billion in 2017 from 1.275 billion in 2016. He said he was disappointed that the industry isn’t cutting production as a whole just yet but said lingering fears of another avian influenza outbreak may be affecting the decisions of other producers. Only three companies, Butterball LLC, Jennie-O and Michigan Turkey Producers, produced less turkey in 2017 than they did in 2016.
According to projections given as part of the annual survey, both Butterball and Jennie-O, the largest and second-largest producers, dropped production in 2017 compared with 2016. Both Butterball and Cargill Protein, the third-largest producer, plan on dropping production in 2018. Jennie-O, Farbest Foods and Tyson Foods Inc., the fourth- and fifth-largest producers, project they will increase production in 2018. The five companies produced 4.502 billion pounds of live turkeys in 2017. By comparison, the rest of the companies included in the annual survey produced 2.931 billion pounds in 2017.