Turkey plant planning for big year

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MORONI -- Utah's turkey industry has a lot to be thankful for this year. After severe financial losses last year because of high feed prices, the Moroni Feed Company is preparing for a record year of turkey production in 2010.

More than four million turkeys have been raised this year in Sanpete County. It was a down year, after corn prices soared in the summer of 2008 and growers lost money on every turkey they produced. Corn prices are back down, and now the Moroni Feed Company expects to raise more turkeys next year than ever before.

Kent Barton, CEO of Moroni Feed Company, said, "We started back into full production in March last year and remained in full production. In fact, we have our largest production year in our 71 year history planned for 2010, so we're excited about that. Our growers are expanding their facilities to be able to accommodate that new production."

Moroni Feed expects by increasing production at its processing plant, its entire operation will be more cost effective. But that will require more turkey products to be sold and Moroni Feed --which sells under the Norbest label -- plans to sell turkey products beyond the traditional whole bird directly to retail customers.

"In order to produce that much turkey, we have to have a place for it to go. And so we've planned several new products that we will be releasing at the retail level. These are products popular with our food service customers," Barton said.

Those include cook-in-the-bag roasts, turkey pot roasts and marinated barbecue turkey steaks.

Moroni Feed likes to point out turkey is a healthy meat and believes people will consume more turkey if it's available to them.

"Currently we are excited to be doing what we've been doing for 71 years, and we're looking forward to the next 71 years," Barton said.

The new turkey products, such as roasts and steaks, are expected to hit retail grocery stores in early spring and will also be sold under the Norbest label.

E-mail: spenrod@ksl.com


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