U.S. turkey production has been hard hit by highly pathogenic avian influenza, or HPAI, with 5.3 million turkeys destroyed to control the spread of the disease, according to analysts at the Daily Livestock Report, published by Steiner Consulting Group.
The lost turkeys were likely coming to market in the second and third quarters and will need to be replaced, the report stated.
Turkey slaughter in April was down 580,000 head, or 3.4%, and May slaughter was down 690,000 head, or 4%, the analysts said. Slaughter will likely be down 7% or more in the next two months, they added.
Prices for whole turkeys and turkey parts have spiked higher as recent HPAI outbreaks reduce supply. Fears of shortages have some producers either unwilling or unable to sell on the spot market, with turkey breast inventory in May up 9% from April, the DLR noted.
The USDA earlier this month forecast turkey production would increase 5.6% in 2023 from this year, with prices expected to fall 2.9% during the same period.
The turkey industry has so far lost 73% of the birds lost from the HPAI outbreak in 2015, according to the agency.
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