North Carolina is a top producer of the most popular Thanksgiving protein.
The Tar Heel state was ranked No. 2 in the country for turkey production in 2016, according to U.S. census data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The only state that produced more turkeys than North Carolina last year was Minnesota, with 44.5 million. North Carolina produced 33.5 million, Arkansas 26 million, Indiana 19.5 million, Missouri 19.2 million and Virginia 17.2 million.
The United States also imports live turkeys – 25.8 million last year. In 2016, 99.9 percent of U.S. imported turkeys came from Canada, and the remaining came from France.
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Chicken and turkey are on track to overtake pork as the world’s most consumed meat by 2020, and in the U.S., chicken consumption per capita has increased every year since the 1960s.
The National Chicken Council estimated that in 2017, Americans would consume more than 100 pounds of chicken and turkey per person, surpassing red meat. And North Carolina’s top agricultural industry is poultry – generating more than $34.4 billion for the state’s economy and employing more than 100,000 people in 2016.
North Carolina is home to Butterball, the largest producer of turkey products in the country, producing more than 1 billion pounds of turkey each year. Butterball’s corporate headquarters are in Garner.
Turkey consumption per capita in the U.S. increased from 16 pounds per household in 2015 to 16.8 pounds per household in 2017.