TURKEY† LEGS† UP
Turkey legs have recently been featured in media and industry stories. Legs have been of growing importance to the turkey industry. Drumsticks represent approximately 12% yield on a turkey carcass and the price discrepancy between hens and toms is small in the domestic market. Drumsticks destined for export markets receive a slight premium to those sold domestically and are primarily from toms. Exported legs sell on average about 2% higher than frozen tom legs, 8% higher than fresh tom legs, and 7% higher than hens on the U.S. market.
Domestically the growing use of smoked turkey legs at fairs, amusement parks, and sporting events has made pricing in this segment much more robust. Though, the largest increase in sales has occurred in export markets. Over the last three years turkey legs have sold on the export market for as much as a dollar a pound in 2011, and rose to that height again late in 2013. Recently, turkey leg prices were up about 4% year-over-year.
As with most turkey items the legs are a highly seasonal item. Summer venues are the largest market for these items in the U.S., but export demand keeps cold storage levels steady. Prior to the run up in export prices in late 2011, stocks in cold storage were consistently estimated to be just over 10 million pounds. However, after the run up inventories increased to nearly 25 million pounds through much of 2012, today around 15 million pounds in cold storage is the norm.
Turkey legs destined for exports are a growth category and are likely becoming more important. Exports by value in legs alone has double since 2010, and 2013 looks on pace to be much larger than 2012. Year-to-date figures indicate the value in exports is already 14% ahead of last year.† Volume of exports is on a similar pace, 17% ahead of 2012ís volume at this time.