Weekly Overview: Thanksgiving in the US But How Healthy is the Turkey Industry?

ANALYSIS - While the US celebrates Thanksgiving, there are signs that all is not well in the turkey industry there. The body representing free-range egg producers in the UK held its annual meeting last week in positive mood, while the dominant player in Australia's organic broiler market has been sold.
calendar icon 28 November 2013
clock icon 3 minute read

This year, 2013, has witnessed dramatic changes in turkey placements in the US.

In their latest 'Daily Livestock Report', analysts Steve Meyer and Len Steiner remarked that earlier in the year, poult placements were running as much 13 per cent below the levels of last year. At the root of the problem is weak demand, they said.

As a further indication that all is not well in the turkey business, we reported two weeks ago that agri-food company, Seaboard Corporation, had increased sales for the latest quarter although its operating costs were also higher. The operating loss made by its turkey affiliate, Butterball, had an impact on the group's bottom line.

Last week was the annual meeting of the British Free Range Egg Producers Association (BFREPA).

The well-attended event at the National Motorcycle Museum near Birmingham points to the vibrancy of the free-range sector in the UK. Free-range eggs do not represent a niche sector - they hold a 44 per cent share of the domestic market and account for 52 per cent of retail sales. BFREPA has around 400 producer members with more than nine million hens.

Other news from "alternative markets" includes the sale of Australia's largest organic poultry farm, Inglewood Farms, to the Youngberry family, an agribusiness group in southern Queensland.

Inglewood Farms is a free-range poultry farm capable of housing 300,000 broilers. It has an 80 per cent share of the organic poultry meat market.

Antibiotic-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) bacteria have been found for the first time in farm livestock in the UK at a poultry farm in East Anglia. The authorities stress that any risk of contracting MRSA through meat from animals with these bacteria is very low when usual good hygiene and thorough cooking practices are observed. It does pose an occupational risk for those in contact with affected livestock.

Last but by no means least, a very happy Thanksgiving to readers in the US.

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