By on 11.21.19 in NC in Focus

Thanksgiving is approaching, which means it’s time to start thinking about your dinner table conversations. If you’re celebrating Thanksgiving in North Carolina — or sharing your table with someone from the Tar Heel state — you can start by looking down at your plate. North Carolina is not only the top producer of sweet potatoes in the United States, but also ranks as one of the top turkey-producing states. Here are a few fun facts about NC turkeys:

32.5 million  

The number of turkeys North Carolina produced in 2018, or 3.1 turkeys for every resident in the state. 

1.2 billion 

Pounds of turkey produced by North Carolina in 2018, meaning each bird produced weighed, on average, 36.8 pounds. 


North Carolina’s rank in turkey production in 2018. The top-producing states were Minnesota (42 million turkeys), North Carolina (32.5 million), and Arkansas (31.5 million). 


North Carolina’s share of national turkey production. 

$610 million 

The estimated value of turkeys produced in North Carolina in 2018. This is down from a high of $994 million in 2016 and may reflect relatively lower wholesale prices that emerged in 2017. 


Number of North Carolina counties producing more than 1 million turkeys each in 2018. Sampson County was the leading producer (7.7 million), followed by Wayne (5.1 million), Union (4.2 million), and Duplin (3.7 million) counties.  

9 NC counties produced more than 1 million turkeys in 2018, Turkeys produced and share of NC production, by county, 2018


Share of NC turkeys produced in Sampson (24%), Wayne (16%), and Union (13%) counties. Sampson has been the leading producer of turkeys in NC in recent years. Duplin used to be the second largest producer in the state but was surpassed by Wayne and Union in the most recent estimates.


The number of people at Carolina Demography who will be eating a Thanksgiving turkey won at the 2019 NC State Fair. Below, a close family member of Rebecca Tippett shows off his prize-winning Turkey Shoot target that resulted in winning a frozen turkey.

Man holds turkey shot target at NC State Fair


The number of people at Carolina Demography wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving!


All data presented here was sourced from the USDA Economic Research Service and National Agricultural Statistics Service. 

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