New Articles

Turkey Prices in the U.S. Keep Soaring Due to Strong Demand and Labor Shortages


Turkey Prices in the U.S. Keep Soaring Due to Strong Demand and Labor Shortages

IndexBox has just published a new report: ‘U.S. – Turkey Meat – Market Analysis, Forecast, Size, Trends and Insights‘. Here is a summary of the report’s key findings.

This November, the price for fresh whole body turkeys surpassed November 2020 figures by 9%, while frozen whole body turkeys jumped 20% y-o-y. A short supply of workers led to lower turkey output and higher prices on the backdrop of consistently strong consumer demand. Turkey imports to the U.S. maintained the previous year’s levels. Canada and Chile remain the only turkey suppliers to America. Unprecedented inflation rates have struck the entire food sector; in October 2021, price increases for meats, poultry, fish and eggs became the highest recorded in the past 30 years.

Key Trends and Insights

Due to accelerating food inflation, Thanksgiving dinner this year will cost Americans significantly more than the previous one. According to the latest report from the USDA, the average price for fresh whole body turkeys in November 2021 was $1.46 per pound, which is 9% more than the previous year. The price for frozen whole body turkeys came to $1.36 per pound, a 20% increase in comparison to 2020.

The average cost of organic fresh whole body turkeys totaled $3.24 per pound (+4.8% compared to November 2020), while organic frozen whole body turkeys were $3.30 per pound (+23%). On average antibiotic-free fresh whole body turkeys cost $2.37 per pound (a decrease of 7%), at the same time, frozen whole body turkeys are going for $3.30 per pound (twice the gains compared to November 2020).

The increase in turkey prices is caused by solid demand running into a 6% y-o-y drop in butchered turkeys to 4.6M tonnes, due in part to a deficit of workers. The turkey market size in 2020 totaled 2.4M tonnes, while this year, it is expected to decrease to about 2.3M tonnes.

Higher turkey prices are occurring in the broader context of unprecedented inflation for food products. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, October prices for meats, poultry, fish and eggs grew by 11.9% in comparison with October 2020. That is the fastest rate of price increases in the past 30 years.

It is unlikely that imports will offset the short supply of turkeys in the US. In 2021, imports remained at comparable levels to the previous year and from January through September consisted of 7K tonnes, accounting for about 0.4% of US consumption. In monetary terms, imports totaled $19.6M, having grown by 7% in comparison with the same period in 2020. Canada makes up 80% of American imports, together with Chile being the only suppliers of turkeys to the U.S.

Turkey Exports from the U.S.

In 2020, exports of turkey meat from the U.S. contracted to 214K tonnes, with a decrease of -11.8% compared with 2019. In value terms, turkey meat exports shrank from $483M to $416M (IndexBox estimates).

Mexico (135K tonnes) was the main destination for turkey meat exports from the U.S., accounting for a 63% share of total exports. Moreover, turkey meat exports to Mexico exceeded the volume sent to the second major destination, China (17K tonnes), eightfold. The third position in this ranking was occupied by Guatemala (4.8K tonnes), with a 2.2% share.

In value terms, Mexico ($262M) remains the key foreign market for turkey meat exports from the U.S., comprising 63% of total exports. The second position in the ranking was occupied by China ($27M), with a 6.6% share of total exports. It was followed by the Dominican Republic, with a 2.6% share.

From 2010 to 2020, the average annual growth rate of value to Mexico (+0.2% per year) was relatively modest. Exports to the other major destinations recorded the following average annual rates of exports growth: China (-3.0% per year) and the Dominican Republic (+0.2% per year).

In 2020, the average turkey meat export price amounted to $1,945 per tonne, with a decrease of -2.4% against the previous year. There were significant differences in the average prices for the major export markets. In 2020, the country with the highest price was the Dominican Republic ($2,434 per tonne), while the average price for exports to Jamaica ($1,195 per tonne) was amongst the lowest. Over the past decade, the most notable rate of growth in terms of prices was recorded for supplies to China, while the prices for the other major destinations experienced more modest paces of growth.

Source: IndexBox Platform


Intradco Global Transports 1,030 Purebred Breeding Pigs from the UK to China on Behalf of Genetics Company, Genesus

On Tuesday 27th April 2021, 1,030 purebred breeding pigs made the approx. 7,000-mile journey from Stansted Airport (STN) to Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport (CTU) in a Boeing 747-8F aircraft.

China is in need of imported pigs due to losing half of its native population to African swine fever since 2018, which accounts for approximately 30% of the global pig population.

The pigs were transported on behalf of Genesus, the largest independent producer of purebred swine globally, with registered populations of Landrace, Yorkshire, and Duroc pigs. Their focus is on non-GMO genetic improvement, which Genesus’ first UK partner, Bridge House Farm in Northamptonshire, is utilizing the highest of technology to achieve.

Pigs are weighed and electronically ID-tagged at birth, enabling extremely detailed data to be collected about the pigs from the start. A custom-made software package records the pigs’ performance, which informs what and how much they are fed based on their gender and breed.

Award-winning farmer Charlie Thompson, who is the sixth generation to run Bridge House Farm, tapped into the Chinese market during the past year when opportunities to transport livestock to Europe have been sparse.

The transport, conducted by Intradco Global, saw their new Pig Lift in action for the first time. The Intradco Global Pig Lift is a truck that has been custom converted to enable the pigs to safely and comfortably move from their transport lorry to their crates. Both the front and back of the Pig Lift are adjustable in height, meaning it can be tailored to suit the varying levels of both the lorry and the crates. This allows the pigs to walk from one to the other without having to navigate steep ramps.

The fourteen-hour journey from the UK to China was split up with a stopover in Kazakhstan, during which the pigs had their food and water supplies freshened.

Intradco Global is the world’s leading equine, livestock and exotics transportation air charter specialist. They utilize decades of experience and innovative practical solutions to transport animals safely and efficiently, creating and monitoring controlled environmental conditions including air circulation, humidity, and temperature.

live animals


Horses, Asses, Mules and Hinnies Atop the Tariff Schedule

Unless you’re a farmer or animal breeder, the first item in Chapter 1 of the Harmonized Tariff Schedule is one we may think about the least – Live Animals. For most Americans, live animals are a long supply chain away from the supermarket.

At over $21 billion in 2017, global trade in live animals has increased 140 percent over the last two decades. Some 45 million hogs, 16 million sheep, 11 million head of cattle, 5 million goats and 1.9 million poultry (mainly chickens) were transported around the globe, some for breeding and about 80 percent intended for consumption.

A specialized segment within the transportation sector is dedicated to transporting live animals by air, land and sea – from air cargo, tractor trailers and trains, to ocean container shipping.

HTS snippet 0101

Shifting Resource Burdens

The world will be home to 9.7 billion people by 2050. With more mouths to feed, agriculture production must become more efficient against the challenges of limited arable land, energy and water resources, especially in developing countries. International development agencies promote raising livestock as a way to increase income for smallholder farmers (owners can sell products and/or offspring) and to achieve greater food security in rural areas through access to high quality proteins. Importing livestock in the last few months of their life can reduce expenses associated with animal feed and veterinary care while conserving limited water resources.

The water-stressed Middle East region has become a major importer of live animals. Demand for meat and dairy products has grown steeply in Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. Importing mature live animals avoids the need to rear animals from birth, shifting the water burden while meeting demand for animals freshly slaughtered in adherence to religious requirements.

Trade in live animals 3x increase

Trade in Genetics, No Goats No Glory

Countries are investing in improving their livestock by either importing live animals or importing frozen semen and embryos for artificial insemination, a process that is achieving higher success rates as costs are coming down. Global trade in purebred animals for breeding in 2017 was a $780 million industry. The animal genetic market is projected to grow from $4.2 billion in 2018 to $5.8 billion by 2023.

In November last year, 1,503 U.S.-origin Holstein heifers valued at $3 million were sold out of Statesville, North Carolina and shipped to Egypt aboard a livestock carrier in an effort by the Government of Egypt to improve the country’s dairy operations supporting output of milk for yogurt and cheese. Qatar is importing American-born dairy cows to surmount trade bans by neighboring countries.

Chickens are by far the largest category of live animals traded globally with hogs coming in second. But it’s dairy goats that could prove key to achieving the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Goats consume fewer resource inputs than cows, goat milk is nutritious, and women often have strong roles in dairy goat ownership and management.

Caprikorn Farms is the oldest goat dairy in Maryland. Raising some of the best dairy goats in the United States and the world, their genetics are in demand. They have worked with Russian authorities to not only send several live animal shipments to Russia but also improve Russia’s health protocol for international shipment. Ten of their goats even flew to Qatar on a private jet.

Bees also get in on the global trade act. Not only do bees circulate throughout the United States to pollinate our many crops, $48.1 million worth of live bees – including Queen bees and semen — were exported globally in 2018. Europe shipped $26.5 million or 55.2 percent of the global total.

Live animal trade routes 2017

Protecting Livestock on the Journey

While North American cattle and hogs have a short truck ride or may even live on ranches along the borders, many animals face a long ocean journey during which their health can be compromised. They are sometimes relegated to older vessels that may be converted from general cargo and not purpose-built to transport the animals in safe conditions. Often on journeys for weeks at a time, animals are at risk for fatigue, heat stress, overcrowding, injury and the spread of disease in close quarters.

The World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) issued the Terrestrial Animal Health Code in 2019 that provides standards for transporting animals by land, sea and air to protect the health and welfare of the animals and prevent the transfer of pathogens via international trade in animals.

As the global population increases and agricultural producers seek to maximize the resources available to them while improving output, global trade in live animals is likely to continue to grow. Standards and cooperation in international trade practices will need to evolve along with that trend.

Contributor Sarah Smiley lives on her family farm in Appalachia where they have raised fainting (myotonic) goats and Charolais cattle for more than 20 years.


Sarah Smiley is a strategic communications and policy expert with over 20 years in international trade and government affairs, working in the U.S. Government, private sector and international organizations.

This article originally appeared on Republished with permission.