By on 11.21.17 in Economic Data

Turkey production is important to the farming sector of North Carolina. In fact, total poultry production – including turkeys, eggs and broiler chickens – is North Carolina’s top agricultural industry, making up 40% of the state’s farm income. Data from the USDA on “turkey disappearance” per capita in the United States indicated a slight uptick from about 16 pounds annually from 2012-2015 to over 16.5 pounds in 2016 and 2017 (projected). As poultry consumption increases across the country and worldwide, North Carolina is likely to benefit.

Here’s what else you should know about turkeys in North Carolina:

33.5 million

Number of birds produced by North Carolina in 2016.

1.2 billion

Number in pounds of turkey produced in 2016 – that’s 35.9 pounds of meat per bird.


North Carolina’s ranking nationally in overall turkey production, behind Minnesota.

We noted previously that North Carolina saw its peak in total production in 1993 at 62 million birds. However, higher production efficiency and technological advancement have had a major influence in decreases of total bird output, as more meat can be produced by a single bird.

In this instance, North Carolina ranks 2nd behind Indiana in terms of efficiency, or average meat production per bird.


North Carolina’s share of total turkey production, per bird, in the United States.

$993 million

This is the estimate value of North Carolina’s turkey industry in 2016. That’s an additional 224 million dollars from its valuation in 2013!


Number of turkey operations with sales in 2012. (Note: the USDA has updated this figure since we last reported on it in 2014.)


Share of state turkey production held by Sampson and Duplin counties in 2016. Sampson produced 8.5 million turkeys (25%) last year, while Duplin produced 5.2 million (16%). This is actually a sizable decrease from 2012, when these two counties produced over half of all of North Carolina’s turkeys.

Lenoir County

This county saw the fastest growth in turkey production from 2015 to 2016 at roughly 10%.

This data was sourced from the USDA Economic Research Service and National Agricultural Statistics Service, in cooperation with the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

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