After four years of declining production, the U.S. turkey industry looks to reverse that trend.

Speaking during the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) 98th Annual Agricultural Outlook Forum, Shayle Shagam, USDA livestock and poultry analyst, discussed trends that indicate the turkey industry could rebuild.

Presently, Shagam said, the market is facing tight supplies, and as a result, prices have been stronger.

“We saw prices were higher during most of 2021, and currently they’re averaging about 98 cents, compared to about 83 cents about a year ago,” Shagam explained. “As a result, we are seeing stronger margins, which should be supportive to continued expansion.”

While he said USDA is getting mixed signals from the turkey sector, hatchery data indicates an expansion effort is being made. Eggs in incubator numbers for both January and February are above 2021 levels, as are poult placements, which are about 5% higher than they were a year ago.

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However, earlier in his presentation, Shagam said his data included in the presentation only included information related to the current highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) situation was only as current as February 9.

Five turkey flocks in Indiana and one in Kentucky have been depopulated as a result of either confirmed avian influenza or presumed-positive avian influenza cases. The total number of turkeys lost in those cases amounts to 211,181.

Earlier WATTPoultry.com reports revealed that one turkey plant will soon go offline, while a new one is expected to be built.

Hormel Foods announced in December 2021 that it will close one of its Jennie-O Turkey Store plants in Willmar, Minnesota, with the closure planned for the first half of 2022. Meanwhile, Prestage Farms announced in July 2021 it will construct a new turkey processing facility in Kershaw County, South Carolina, with construction expected to be completed by the conclusion of 2022.