Regarding the fourth quarter 2010, turkey-meat production is forecast at 1.45 billion lbs., a relatively small gain in production from the previous year. This would be a switch, as turkey-meat production has fallen on a year-over-year basis for the last seven consecutive quarters.
With lower turkey-meat production throughout 2009 and in the first three quarters of 2010, stocks of turkey products (whole birds and parts) have been well below their year-earlier levels throughout 2010. At the end of September, overall turkey cold-storage holdings were 470 million lbs., down 23% from the previous year. The decline in cold-storage holdings of all turkey products was almost equally divided between whole turkey and turkey product stocks.
At the end of September, whole-bird stocks totaled 284 million lbs., down 21% from the previous year, and stocks of turkey products were down 26% to 186 million lbs. With production expected to be up only fractionally in fourth-quarter 2010, turkey cold-storage holdings at the end of 2010 are expected to total 210 million lbs., the lowest year-ending stocks level since 2005.
There has been considerable upward pressure on turkey prices, since there was lower turkey-meat production over the first three quarters of 2010 and much lower stocks of whole birds. In third-quarter 2010, prices for whole turkeys at the wholesale level averaged $0.98 per lb., up 14 cents per lb. from the second quarter and 25% higher than the previous year. Whole-turkey prices are expected to average $1.01-$1.05 per lb. in fourth-quarter 2010, around 25% higher than a year earlier.