Bird flu out­break will hurt turkey sales: Hormel

The China Post - - WORLD BUSINESS -

Hormel says it will sell less turkey this year be­cause of a spread­ing bird flu out­break.

So far the virus has been found at farms hous­ing 2.3 mil­lion turkeys, all of which have died of the dis­ease, or have been killed or soon will be in or­der to stem the spread of avian flu. Most of the birds were in Min­nesota, which is the largest turkey-pro­duc­ing state in the U.S.

Big com­mer­cial farms have been hit hard, and Hormel said Mon­day it is experiencing sig­nif­i­cant turkey sup­ply-chain prob­lems. It ex­pects out­breaks to de­crease as the weather im­proves.

Both Hormel and its Jen­nie-O Turkey Store di­vi­sion are based in Min­nesota.

Hormel Foods Corp., cit­ing its up­com­ing sec­ond-quar­ter re­port, said Mon­day that it can’t com­ment on how turkey prices or the Thanks­giv­ing turkey sea­son will be af­fected. It is sched­uled to re­port its earn­ings May 20 and said it will pro­vide more de­tails about its turkey busi­ness then.

Ac­cord­ing to a Jen­nie-O Turkey Store web­site, the highly con­ta­gious H5N2 strain of avian flu has been con­firmed at 19 farms that are ei­ther in­de­pen­dent con­tract grow­ers for Jen­nie-O or are com­pany-owned. All but one of those are in Min­nesota.

The virus has been found in turkey flocks in six states. Sci­en­tists be­lieve do­mes­tic poul­try are get­ting the virus from wild mi­gra­tory wa­ter­fowl, although se­cu­rity mea­sures at farms are sup­posed to min­i­mize the chances that will hap­pen. Once the virus is con­firmed at a par­tic­u­lar farm, all of the turkeys at that farm are killed and the lo­ca­tion is closed for a full clean­ing.

Hormel says all of its flocks are tested for the virus.

About 46 mil­lion turkeys are raised in Min­nesota an­nu­ally. It’s not clear why that state has been par­tic­u­larly hard-hit by the dis­ease. About 235 mil­lion turkeys were pro­duced in the U.S. year.

On Mon­day, the U.S. Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture said the

last virus was also found at an Iowa farm hold­ing 5.3 mil­lion hens, or al­most 10 per­cent of the state’s egg-lay­ing chick­ens.

AP

In this Aug. 16, 2010 file photo, the Hormel la­bel is dis­played in Philadel­phia. Hormel says it will sell less turkey this year be­cause of a spread­ing bird flu out­break. Farm­ers have been forced to kill more than 2.4 mil­lion turkeys since March.

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