Manitoba’s turkey industry looking towards a green future

As we enter the holiday season, few things are as iconic as the image of a perfectly roasted turkey dinner surrounded by all the fixings. Whatever our reason for celebrations, few things are more satisfying than gathering around a table filled with amazing food. Whether its Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hannukah or Kwanza, a small gathering, or a multi-generational feast, many people choose to place Manitoba Turkey at the center of their celebration. 

And just like much of Manitoba’s food and beverage manufacturing industry, Manitoba’s turkey farmers are thinking of sustainability and the environment.

“Manitoba’s turkey farmers are making improvements in productivity with an eye towards benefitting the environment and reducing its impact,” says Stephany Opyc, Marketing Coordinator with Manitoba Turkey.

These include improved feed conversions, reduced land use, fewer inputs for crop production, less manure and greenhouse gas emissions.

“Turkey farmers are reinvesting in their farms and industries by way of leading research, innovation, food safety, and bird care,” says Opyc.

“Over the last 40 years, improvements to feed efficiency have reduced the carbon footprint of production. Now, 33% less feed is needed for every pound of turkey meat produced.” It’s a marked efficiency improvement that benefits both farmer and consumer. 

According to recent industry surveys, more than 80% of turkey farmers indicated that reinvestment was being used to improve sustainability.

“We’re seeing our farmers displaying a commitment to the environment, and a growing connection of companies and businesses, that are working together to not only improve operations, but to do it in a sustainable way for future generations,” says Opyc.

According to Michael Mikulak, Executive Director of Food & Beverage Manitoba, working towards a sustainable food producing system can only happen when all the players work together. “It’s not a one-farm or even a one-producer type job. It doesn’t matter if you’re a turkey or a beef or a pea producer, you will need to reduce your waste and your emissions if we hope to make any type of impact,” he says.

“Food producers are close to the land and know the impact their decisions can have. We need to work together to make sure that the right incentives and systems are in place that allow our sector to provide safe, sustainable, and plentiful food for everyone,” says Mikulak.

“It’s not only our job to help our members take the lead, but to also connect them with partners and businesses to help them achieve these goals, however insurmountable they may seem.”

According to Opyc, “Our farmers are always looking for ways to become even more efficient.”

Some food for green thoughts as we enjoy our turkey holiday dinners this year.