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November 26, 2014 3:38 pm

Despite Thanksgiving, Israel Tops U.S. in Turkey Meat Production

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Thanksgiving turkey. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

JNS.org – As the U.S. prepares for the Thanksgiving holiday and the annual tradition of eating turkey, statistics from Israel’s turkey industry, Agriculture Ministry, and Foreign Ministry show that Israel is actually the world leader in per capita consumption of turkey.

The average Israeli consumes on average more 13 kilos (about 28 pounds) of turkey a year, which is double the 16.7 pounds eaten by the average American annually. Turkey also represents about a quarter of the Jewish state’s meat production, which equals about 125,000 tons of turkey produced per year.

In addition, Israel is known for inventing “turkey pastrami,” according to the Agriculture Ministry.

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“In the early days of the state, getting meat to Israelis was a problem. The country was poor so it couldn’t afford to import too much beef, and chickens required refrigeration, which many Israelis did not have at the time. … Turkey, because it is a tougher meat than chicken, proved to be a better choice for pastrami production, so farms started raising turkeys,” Israeli turkey farmer Yaron Glover told The Times of Israel.

“Israelis got used to turkey, and manufacturers got used to using it in food production, so that even today when most Israelis can afford meat and chicken and have the refrigerator and freezer space, turkey is still very popular,” added Glover.

According to the statistics, Israel is the eighth-ranked total turkey producer worldwide, exporting more than half of the turkeys it produces. A Foreign Ministry spokesperson said that the Israeli turkey industry has “a high level of automation and strict hygienic conditions.”

“Development of disease-resistant breeds has contributed to high meat production. A wide variety of turkey products is exported, mainly to Western Europe,” where the meat is very popular, the spokesperson said.

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