Thanksgiving weekend is always a busy time with family and friends.
Thanksgiving and Christmas are the two biggest seasons for turkey consumption.
Stats for 2022, show that Canadians consumed 127.9 million kilograms of turkey, with 2.1 million whole turkeys purchased at Thanksgiving.
Darren Ference, Chair of the Turkey Farmers of Canada says Thanksgiving and Christmas are one of the major parts to the full bird market.
"Our whole bird market is about 40 per cent of our total market. Of that 40 per cent, 72 per cent is between the two with 31 per cent at Thanksgiving and 42 per cent at Christmas."
Last year, at Christmas 2.7 million whole turkeys were purchased with some people reporting they had a challenge finding the turkey they wanted. (For example whether it was fresh or frozen)
He says that was due to the challenges producers we're dealing with Avian Influenza.
"There was a lot of producers that had to depopulate barns and then reset. Some of them couldn't be scheduled back into the production year, so they were a little short on production. As we roll forward into this year, the avian influenza has been a lot less prominent and the supplies are good. All the producers are pretty well up and running."
A key issue for many people this year may not be finding a turkey but paying for a turkey dinner with all the trimmings given the rising cost of food.
Ference says overall the price of turkey has been lower than the cost of other proteins over the last few years.
He adds that based on the price monitoring they've been doing prices have been fairly consistent with last year.
"I see that there's some reports of fairly high turkey prices, but it all depends on what you want to buy. So there is frozen whole birds, there's fresh whole birds. There's pre-stuffed whole birds, there's pre cooked whole birds. So as you change in parts of service that you want, there's different prices for the piece of the service that you want to purchase."
Consumers also have the option of turkey pieces whether that's just buying a turkey breast or legs.
Ference adds that with the choices available today, turkey isn't just for Thanksgiving or Christmas, people are reaching for it throughout the year.
Chances are the turkey you sit down to enjoy was raised on the prairies.
He points out that Alberta raises about 1.3 million birds, Saskatchewan about 600 thousand and Manitoba 1.7 million birds with processing facilities located in Winnipeg, Saskatoon and Edmonton.
A snapshot of the turkey industry in Canada (from the Turkey Farmers of Canada website) shows Agriculture & Agri-Food Canada's Statistics Canada numbers which were reviewed in September of 2023 show Canada has 513 producers, with ten commercial turkey hatcheries, and 17 federally inspected turkey processing plants.
Overall turkey production in Canada shows a total farmgate value of $442.6 million dollars.
To hear Glenda-Lee's conversation with David Ference click on the link below.
For more information and numerous ideas on how to cook turkey and how to use leftovers or just how to use turkey in everyday meals visit their website at https://www.canadianturkey.ca/.