Turkey is one of the most popular types of poultry in the United States. The bird is synonymous with the season of Thanksgiving where turkey is a staple for many American families. The United States produces an estimated 240 million turkeys each year, with production peaking in the 1990s. Turkey farming is an activity embraced by many poultry farmers found all over the country. Arkansas, Minnesota, and California are among the major turkey-producing states in the country.
Which US State Raises the Most Turkeys?
Minnesota is the number-one state in rearing turkeys in the United States. There are an estimated 44 million turkeys reared around the state. Turkey farming in Minnesota is a family tradition which transcends several generations. There are about 450 families in the state which are involved in turkey rearing. Millions of pounds of turkey are ordered from these farmers each year, with orders peaking during Thanksgiving.
Another leading turkey rearing state is Arkansas. There are an estimated 26 million turkeys in the state. The annual turkey production in the state is about 560 million pounds and valued at $370 million. Turkey rearing in Arkansas is largely practiced in the northern and central regions of the state. The turkey industry in Arkansas is however not limited to turkey rearing but the entire value-addition chain. The industry employs more than 12,000 people in the state, with the vast majority being involved in the supply and ancillary sectors.
California is also another key player in turkey rearing in the United States. The state is home to an estimated 10.9 million turkeys. The state is also one of the leading producers of turkey products in the country. Turkey farmers in California are known for their organic ways of rearing the birds which make them attract great interest from consumers. The state is home to some well-known turkey farms such as Pitman Family Farms and Foster Farms (which supplied the Thanksgiving turkey to the White House). The California Poultry Federation reported a 5% increase in turkey consumption in the state in five years between 2006 and 2010.
Trends in Turkey Consumption
Turkey consumption in the United States is steadily increasing in recent years, after years of market shrinking. According to the National Turkey Federation, the average annual consumption of turkey per capita in the country is about 17 pounds. However, another recent trend in turkey consumption seen in the United States is the preference of frozen turkey found in supermarkets. As much as 69% of turkey consumers in the country prefer consuming frozen turkey than fresh turkey from the farm. The main reason behind the preference of frozen turkey is the price. Another trend seen in turkey consumption in the country is the preference of organically bred turkey with consumers going great lengths to establish the rearing processes involved in the production of turkey. While producers usually place labels on packed turkey claiming to be organic, such labels could be misleading as many farmers feed their birds on genetically modified feeds and inject them with hormones. Authentic organic turkey only comes from certified organic ranches which are known for their strict organic farming practices.