In my turkey oriented life, I rank turkey meat as a healthy, flavorful, lean white meat that has a low environmental foot print, rich with potential in product diversity through further processing because of the high meat yield on these large birds. I see opportunity!
Reality, I am unsure if my perception of turkey, my ideal food, actually exists: On the very first day, of my first Nuffield trip a month ago, I was keen to learn about Irish turkey, but was quite disappointed to learn the largest processor had stopped processing turkey and now only handles turkeys at Christmas for the seasonal market. No worries I thought, I am off to the UK, surely their business is robust. Unfortunately, my research into British turkey production remains somewhat inconclusive as poult placements have reduced by over 50% in the last decade. So where have all the turkeys gone? Why can’t I find a larger selection of turkey production on store shelves and local menus? So what has changed in the landscape of production and consumption of turkey?
Understanding the economic, political and environmental groups and the impact they have on production is key to evaluating change in turkey production. We all know economies are evolving and developing nations where protein has increasing demand is an opportunity for many firms, but what about mature, stable markets like ours in Canada and similar to Western Europe? In reality, as farmers in a supply managed sector, we focus almost exclusively on producing a quality product where our ‘controllable’ variables are driven to minimize cost and maximize output. Supply managed farmers don’t have to worry about marketing, because definition of a market is that a processor will buy our poultry is guaranteed.
Having completed the first phase of my independent travel, I took the opportunity to learn a great deal about myself, leveraging my personal, professional and Nuffield network. Personally, I have stretched my own abilities to share my story and ask the questions that are meaningful to me, and ultimately to Canadian agriculture and those invested in supply managed production.
If I compare myself to a race horse, my blinders are off, the world is exposed, and I am looking over my shoulder to see where turkey production is evolving. These 11 days are being invested in visits to the UK, Holland and Germany where production has seen a boom, a bust, and a shift into Eastern Europe.