Wednesday, October 19, 2022
Turkey prices at record as flu kills near-record count of birds
|Chickens eat from feed bins. (Randall Hill/Reuters)|
A new strain of avian flu has killed a near-record number of U.S. chickens and turkeys, reports Tom Polansek of Reuters. More than 47 million birds have died this year from the virus, nearing the high-water mark of 50.5 million deaths the disease claimed in 2015. The deaths have contributed to record prices for turkeys just ahead of the holiday season, as many consumers are dealing with rising inflation.
The outbreak is credited to a subtype of the H5N1 strain of the virus that has been found in a broader range of wild birds compared to past iterations of the virus, Rosemary Sifford, the chief veterinary officer for the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Wild birds spread the virus over their migration patterns and Sifford said there could be increased risk of the virus through summer 2023.
“Retail prices for fresh boneless, skinless turkey breast reached a record $6.70 per pound last month, up 112% from a year earlier and 14% above the previous record from 2015,” Polansek writes, citing the American Farm Bureau. The Hormel Foods Corp., owner of the Jennie-O Turkey Store brand, said its turkey production will be reduced through at least March 2023 because of the flu. China, a major buyer of U.S. poultry and eggs, has blocked imports from states with confirmed cases, Polansek reports.