Turkey, Cranberry Processors Dealing with Overproduction

How it benefits your meal and challenges growers and processors.

Turkey and cranberries are synonymous with holiday meals. And while families might have previously needed to arm wrestle for the drumsticks or race for the last scoop of berries, they can probably avoid the drama and afford to buy some extras this year.

According to recent reports, this year’s Thanksgiving dinner will be the cheapest since 2013, which stems primarily from the overproduction of turkeys and cranberries. 

In fact, there are so many extra cranberries being harvested that grower prices have dropped by as much as 25 percent over the last two years, cutting into their profits. This led the U.S. Cranberry Marketing Committee to seek help from the U.S. Department of Agriculture in September. 

The plan, which is expected to be approved by the USDA, would require any company that processes more than 125,000 barrels (12.5 million pounds) to dispose of 15 percent of their total – turning it into fertilizer. 

These measures, combined with a regulated 25 percent reduction of next year’s crops, hopes to get supply and demand back in balance. 

According to Bloomberg, about 20 percent of annual cranberry sales occur during the week of Thanksgiving. Similarly, according to the National Turkey Federation, about 10 percent of all turkey sales occur during Thanksgiving. And on average, they’ll cost about $0.30 less than last year. 

Although not as severe, the slight price decline stems from an over-correction after the avian influenza outbreak that ravaged the U.S. population in 2015. This means prices are actually lower during a time of year when they typically peak. 

Additionally, China, once the second-largest turkey export market, has maintained a ban on American poultry since 2015. 

Along with turkeys and cranberries, global stockpiles of grains and record meat production totals are depressing food prices around the world.

So, while I’m eternally thankful for Peyron, Emma, Sophia and Anna, saving a little money on the spread will be nice as well. 

From all of us at IEN, have a wonderful Thanksgiving.