Sum Of The Parts
Turkey producers find value … in value-added products.
Sure, it won’t be long before retailers and foodservice operators start merchandising their whole turkeys, with the pending arrival of Thanksgiving and the holiday season. And although it’s always heartening for turkey processors that their products are in the enviable position of being on the table in several million American households at the same time, it has been the
industry’s recent success promoting turkey during the other 10 months that have them particularly excited for the future.
Sherry Rosenblatt, senior director, marketing and communications, for the National Turkey Federation (NTF), cites recent economic figures that speak to turkey’s expansion. “We are really seeing some demand increases on our further-processed products, which could be everything from rotisserie turkeys in the deli to marinated turkey tenderloins in the fresh-meat case to fully cooked turkey meatballs. All of those products are mirroring consumer trends by providing a healthful meal that tastes good [and] is easy to get on the table,” she says.
In the supermarket meat case, while whole frozen birds remain a staple, and portioned products like cutlets and ground turkey from venerable brands like Hormel’s Jennie-O Turkey Store and Cargill Meat Solutions’ Honeysuckle White have been around for years, there have been several innovative new additions. Jennie-O Turkey Store’s Oven Ready turkey, packaged in a Fool-Proof™ cooking bag that goes directly in the oven, is one example. Carolina Turkeys recently added a new product line featuring fresh ground turkey, patties, sausages, breakfast links, tenders and roast-in-bag breasts. Koch’s Turkey Farm has developed two new ground turkey products, including an all-natural, ready-to-cook variety and a white-meat variety. Empire Kosher Poultry Inc. also has delved more into value-added arena with new fresh turkey tenders, turkey breast for London broil and extra-lean thigh chops.
Heat-and-serve turkey entrees are also livening things up. Tyson Foods, Inc. has launched a Carved Turkey Breast in Gravy, and the Owens Country Sausage Inc. brand from Bob Evans Farms, Inc., recently developed a new, fully cooked Turkey Breast with Gravy Slow Roasted Dinner. In addition to such comfort-food favorites, there have been other applications in the fully cooked segment, such as new Italian-style turkey meatballs from Salisbury, Md.-based Perdue Farms Inc. and a new rotisserie turkey meatloaf from Kings Command Foods. As part of its Just Perfect brand, meanwhile, Carolina Turkeys this year began offering fully cooked items like frozen turkey meatballs and fully cooked flavored strips.
On the foodservice side of the business, NTF and turkey processors have been working to ramp up turkey’s visibility on the menu by offering recipes and serving suggestions to chefs.
Rosenblatt adds that a chef in Portland is generating buzz with an Asian turkey dish and famed chef Rick Bayless has developed turkey dishes featuring his signature Mexican flair in his Topolobamo restaurant in Chicago. “It’s amazing, some of the culinary uses we are finding,” Rosenblatt concludes. “Turkey fits into a lot of cuisines and lends itself well to flavors.” NP
Annual Turkey Forecasts
  2002 20032004200520062007
Production (millions lb.)5,7135,6505,4545,5045,6345,730
Per capita consumption (retail lb.)*17.717.417.116.716.6 16.7
Exports (millions lb.)439484443569554595
*Per capita meat consumption data are revised, incorporating a new population series from the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Economic Analysis based on the 2000 Census.
Source: World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates and Supporting Materials
Published in Livestock, Dairy, and Poultry Outlook, www.ers.usda.gov/publications/ldp