However, it’s not just the Thanksgiving festivities that generate a demand for turkey. There is a year-round demand for various products made from its meat, from ham to meat balls to mince. In many ways, turkey became a year-round part of the American diet when people started looking for alternatives to red meat – alternatives that were affordable while still being healthier than red meat.
The USDA-backed study says that the per capita consumption of turkey rose remarkably between 1974, when it stood at 6.5 pounds, and 1997, when it reached 14 pounds. This also set off a sizeable market for turkey in the United States, giving rise to a bevy of name brands selling a variety of value-added processed products.
From the economic standpoint, companies engaged in producing and processing the bird generate nearly 300,000 jobs across the United States, says the National Turkey Federation. The organization also says that companies in the turkey business in the United States contribute an appreciable US$5.6 bn by way of tax revenue to the U.S. economy, with their overall economic impact being much higher at US$80.1 bn per year.
It’s not just domestic turkey consumption that has helped the turkey industry flourish; exports also account for a considerable portion of the larger picture. Countries such as Mexico and China make for the highest importers of turkey from the U.S., bringing in millions of dollars’ worth trade revenue.
This year, despite millions of turkeys being killed in a deadly avian flu outbreak in the U.S. earlier in 2015, turkey prices have managed to remain pocket-friendly. Yet, with the turkey industry braving the impact of this event, producers and suppliers are now expressing concerns that the tight supply dynamics from this year might have a cascading effect over next year’s Thanksgiving business.