Industry Market Trends

The U.S Turkey Deficit and other Thanksgiving Numbers

Nov 24, 2009

If you added up all the turkey consumed in a year, how much would it weigh? How many Americans will travel away from home this holiday weekend? How many people shop online from work during the holiday season? Find out these and other Thanksgiving-related facts, broken down here into bite-size helpings.

Things are about to get pretty quiet around the workplace. We're just two days away from Thanksgiving, the national holiday of overindulgence: eating, drinking, napping, PTO-ing and football-watching like our lives depend on all of it. Really, the only thing making up for this egregious display of gluttony is the fact that we're thankful for it.

Thanksgiving is also when people start to shop like it's a sport, making the time around Turkey Day big business for many companies.

Warm up to some fun facts about this indulgent and profitable time of the year, for which many of us are thankful, despite the state of the economy.


Number of places in the United States named Plymouth — as in Plymouth Rock, the landing site of the first Pilgrims — the most populous being Plymouth, Minn. (71,486 residents in 2008) and Plymouth, Mass. (55,705)

Source: U.S. Census Bureau Fact Finder and Population Estimates

117 Million

Number of households in the U.S., all of which are potential gathering places for people to celebrate Thanksgiving

Source: U.S. Census Bureau 2008 Families and Living Arrangements

13.8 Lbs.

Quantity of turkey consumed by the typical American in 2007, much of which is devoured (and leftover) at Thanksgiving time

Source: U.S. Census Bureau 2010 Statistical Abstract of the United States (Tables 212-213)

250 Million

Preliminary estimate of turkeys raised in the U.S. in 2009, down 8 percent from the number raised during 2008

Source: USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service

$3.6 Billion

Value of turkeys shipped in 2002, with Arkansas leading the way in turkey shipments ($581.5 million), followed by Virginia ($544.2 million) and North Carolina ($453 million)

Source: U.S. Census Bureau 2002 Poultry Processing


Number of people employed by the nation's poultry business whose primary product was turkey in 2002


$3.8 Billion

Forecast 2009 receipts to farmers from turkey sales

Source: USDA Economic Research Service

$9.2 Million

Value of U.S. imports of live turkeys from January through July of 2009, the vast majority of which (99.3 percent) came from Canada

Source: U.S. Census Bureau Foreign Trade Statistics

$5.8 Million

Trade deficit the U.S. ran in live turkeys during the January-July 2009 period, compared with a $23.1 million surplus in sweet potatoes


5.2 Lbs.

Per-capita sweet potato consumption in the U.S. in 2007

Source: U.S. Census Bureau 2010 Statistical Abstract of the United States (Tables 212-213)

709 Million Lbs.

Forecast for U.S. cranberry production in 2009, with Wisconsin expected to lead all states in production (400 million lbs.), followed by Massachusetts (190 million)

Source: USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service

1.8 Billion Lbs.

Total weight of sweet potatoes — another popular Thanksgiving side dish — produced by major sweet potato-producing states in 2008, led by North Carolina (874 million lbs.) and followed by California (437 million lbs.) and Mississippi (335 million lbs.)



38.4 Million

Number of Americans projected to be traveling 50+ miles away from home over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, a 1.4 percent increase over last year's 37.8 million traveled

Source: AAA

33.2 Million

Number of travelers expected to get to and from their destination by automobile in 2009, or 86 percent of total Thanksgiving vacationers, up 2.1 percent from last year's 32.5 million



Percentage of Thanksgiving vacationers expected to travel by air, or 2.3 million travelers, a 6.7 percent decline from 2008


2.9 Million

The number of those traveling by "other" means, including trains, buses and multiple modes of transportation, a 1.2 percent increase from last year



Average number of miles that Thanksgiving travelers are expected to journey roundtrip this holiday weekend



Approximate amount per household that Thanksgiving travelers are expected to spend this holiday weekend



Percentage of household spending dedicated to transportation this Thanksgiving weekend, followed by food and beverage (21 percent), shopping (16 percent), accommodations (15.7 percent) and entertainment and recreation (10 percent)




Retail cost per pound of a frozen whole turkey in December 2008

Source: U.S. Census Bureau 2010 Statistical Abstract of the United States (Table 717)


Percentage of people who will begin holiday shopping in November

Source: National Retail Federation (NRF) 2008 Holiday Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey

73.6 Million

Number of people in 2008 who shopped on Black Friday — the day after Thanksgiving and the busiest shopping day of last year

Sources: NRF 2008 Black Friday Weekend Survey and ShopperTrak Retail Traffic Index


Average amount that shoppers spent on gifts during Black Friday weekend (Thursday through Sunday) in 2008, with total spending reaching an estimated $41 billion

Source: NRF 2008 Black Friday Weekend Survey


Percentage of Black Friday weekend spending toward clothing or accessories, the top items bought, followed by: books, CDs, DVDs and video games (39 percent); consumer electronics (35.9 percent); and toys (28.5 percent)



Percent of Black Friday shoppers who were at stores by 5 a.m. last year, while more than half (57.6 percent) were at stores by 9 a.m.



Millions of people who shopped online on Cyber Monday, the Monday after Thanksgiving, last year

Source: 2008 Survey


Percentage of retailers that offered promotions specifically for Cyber Monday last year

Source: 2008 eHoliday Survey

72.8 Million

Number of people who shopped online from work during the holiday season last year


From all of us at IMT, have a safe and happy Thanksgiving, folks!