95.3 / 88.5 FM Grand Rapids and 95.3 FM Muskegon
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

A glut of Michigan poultry offers alternative to beef and pork in short supply

Michigan Turkey Producers logo
Michigan Turkey Producers

Coronavirus outbreaks in U.S. meatpacking plants have added to disruptions in the nation’s food supply chain. The beef and pork shortage are also driving up prices. Not so for the Michigan poultry industry.

“We have actually a surplus of turkey meat right now. Both in Michigan and across the country.”

West Michigan turkey farmers processing more than five million turkeys annually generating 220 million live-pounds annually. About 60-percent sold to the food service industry for restaurants and schools, and 40-percent to retail customers. Much of it for ground and deli meat.

Brian Borigter is CEO of Michigan Turkey. “Our process are quite historically depressed right now. It doesn’t seem like the impact has been as great on the poultry processing facilities as it has been on some of the other industries.”

Pork and beef where processing has been disrupted by COVID-19 outbreaks.

Is this an opportunity for the poultry industry?

“We are starting to see some signs of increases in orders. Especially in our retail customers as these shortfalls become more publicized. One of our largest customers is Costco and we’ve seen their orders increase quite drastically over the last two to three weeks.”

Orders welcomed by the 16 farmers forming the cooperative, Michigan Turkey Producers, at two Grand Rapids facilities. Recently, one of them experienced a COVID-19 outbreak. It was closed for three days and associates were tested. Borigter tells us aggressive safety measures are in place including barriers protecting workers and the supply of turkey meat.

I’m Patrick Center

Patrick joined WGVU Public Media in December, 2008 after eight years of investigative reporting at Grand Rapids' WOOD-TV8 and three years at WYTV News Channel 33 in Youngstown, Ohio. As News and Public Affairs Director, Patrick manages our daily radio news operation and public interest television programming. An award-winning reporter, Patrick has won multiple Michigan Associated Press Best Reporter/Anchor awards and is a three-time Academy of Television Arts & Sciences EMMY Award winner with 14 nominations.