anada’s turkey industry is slowly recovering after a series of disasters in the last two years knocked back consumer demand, officials
A perfect storm hit the industry in late 2008, just
as sales of processed turkey items were starting to see double-digit growth, said Phil Boyd, Turkey Farmers of Canada executive director.
Feed and energy costs soared. A Canada-wide listeriosis outbreak from a Maple Leaf plant in Toronto sideswiped turkey product sales. Low-priced pork stole some poultry sales. And the recession took a bite out of consumer purchases generally.
The turkey industry is still suffering a hangover with “not much new growth” in sales, Boyd said.
But on the eve of Thanksgiving, when roast turkey traditionally tops the menu, producers have reason to be cautiously optimistic, he said.
“I think we’re seeing progress and I think there’s a greater awareness now. We’ve just had a setback.”
Whole-bird sales rose 11 per cent nationally in 2009 (to 10.5 million birds), thanks largely to markdown sales by retailers trying to move surplus stocks. And new products – such as pre-packaged roasts, ground turkey, turkey parts and deli meats – are starting to make turkey a year-round food item, said Boyd.
“We’re seeing growth in the non-festive seasons,” he said. [email protected]
– PHIL BOYD, TURKEY FARMERS OF CANADA