California Turkey Industry Enjoys Excellent Year

California Turkey Producers and Processors Offer Wide Variety to Consumers and Benefit From Steady High Prices

For the last two weeks, grocery store meat departments have been catering to consumers looking for the perfect turkey.

According to Bill Mattos, President of the Modesto-based California Poultry Federation, it has been a great year for California turkey producers:

“This is probably one of the best years for turkey in many, many years for the farmer and the processor. The consumer still gets a bargain every Thanksgiving even though prices this year are higher [as] there are less turkeys in the nation. California fresh turkey was sold out from our processors two weeks before Thanksgiving. So, we were urging everyone who wanted California fresh turkey to get their order in early, and they may still be able to do that. The California farmer is offering everything from fresh and natural to organic to free range; you can find just about everything in your supermarket. It will be a very good year for turkey, and it will be a good year for chickens coming up as well. We look forward to 2015 because we think it will be even better than 2014.”

Mattos said that the turkey industry was careful to avoid oversupply, “The turkey industry didn’t grow crazy, and prices stayed at a pretty good level. They didn’t all start growing like farmers do sometimes as they all get into the business when prices are good. Turkey farmers held back and kept their supply even; however,  with very high beef, pork and other meat prices at this time of year, people look at turkey and even chicken as a bargain.”

As we all sit around the table with friends and family this Thanksgiving, we can be thankful for the California turkey producers and processors, as well as the farmers and farm workers who provide so much for the seasonal meals.

Cost of Thanksgiving Dinner Rises, But is Still Under $50 For 10 People

Let’s All Remember and Give Thanks to Farmers and Farmworkers Who Provide Us with Food for our Thanksgiving Celebration

The American Farm Bureau Federation’s 29th annual informal price survey of classic items found on the Thanksgiving Day dinner table indicates the average cost of this year’s feast for 10 is $49.41, a 37-cent increase from last year’s average of $49.04.

The big ticket item – a 16-pound turkey – came in at $21.65 this year. That’s roughly $1.35 per pound, a decrease of less than 1 cent per pound, or a total of 11 cents per whole turkey, compared to 2013.

“Turkey production has been somewhat lower this year and wholesale prices are a little higher, but consumers should find an adequate supply of birds at their local grocery store,” AFBF Deputy Chief Economist John Anderson said. Some grocers may use turkeys as “loss leaders,” a common strategy deployed to entice shoppers to come through the doors and buy other popular Thanksgiving foods.

The AFBF survey shopping list includes turkey, bread stuffing, sweet potatoes, rolls with butter, peas, cranberries, a relish tray of carrots and celery, pumpkin pie with whipped cream, and beverages of coffee and milk, all in quantities sufficient to serve a family of 10. There is also plenty for leftovers.

Foods showing the largest increases this year were sweet potatoes, dairy products and pumpkin pie mix. Sweet potatoes came in at $3.56 for three pounds. A half pint of whipping cream was $2.00; one gallon of whole milk, $3.76; and a 30-ounce can of pumpkin pie mix, $3.12. A one-pound relish tray of carrots and celery ($.82) and one pound of green peas ($1.55) also increased in price. A combined group of miscellaneous items, including coffee and ingredients necessary to prepare the meal (butter, evaporated milk, onions, eggs, sugar and flour) rose to $3.48.

In addition to the turkey, other items that declined modestly in price included a 14-ounce package of cubed bread stuffing, $2.54; 12 ounces of fresh cranberries, $2.34; two nine-inch pie shells, $2.42; and a dozen brown-n-serve rolls, $2.17.

The average cost of the dinner has remained around $49 since 2011.

“America’s farmers and ranchers remain committed to continuously improving the way they grow food for our tables, both for everyday meals and special occasions like Thanksgiving dinner that many of us look forward to all year,” Anderson said. “We are blessed to be able to provide a special holiday meal for 10 people for about $5.00 per serving – less than the cost of most fast food meals.”

The stable average price reported this year by Farm Bureau for a classic Thanksgiving dinner tracks closely with the government’s Consumer Price Index for food eaten at home (available online at http://www.bls.gov/news.release/cpi.nr0.htm), which indicates a 3-percent increase compared to a year ago.

A total of 179 volunteer shoppers checked prices at grocery stores in 35 states. Farm Bureau volunteer shoppers are asked to look for the best possible prices, without taking advantage of special promotional coupons or purchase deals, such as spending $50 and receiving a free turkey.

Shoppers with an eye for bargains in all areas of the country should be able to purchase individual menu items at prices comparable to the Farm Bureau survey averages. Another option for busy families without a lot of time to cook is ready-to-eat Thanksgiving meals for up to 10 people, with all the trimmings, which are available at many supermarkets and take-out restaurants for around $50 to $75.

The AFBF survey was first conducted in 1986. While Farm Bureau does not make any scientific claims about the data, it is an informal gauge of price trends around the nation. Farm Bureau’s survey menu has remained unchanged since 1986 to allow for consistent price comparisons.

Source: Cyndie Sirekis,  AFBF Director of Internal Communications