Why You Might Have Trouble Getting A Turkey This Thanksgiving

·2 min read
Photo credit: LauriPatterson - Getty Images
Photo credit: LauriPatterson - Getty Images

The hallmark of Thanksgiving is the perfectly roasted and juicy turkey at the center of the table. But what happens if you can’t get that? Just like many shortages that have happened at the grocery store over the last year-and-a-half, this potential shortage could affect your dinner options this November.

According to a report from the New York Post, producers and distributors of meat are worried over a turkey shortage, especially one on fresh birds under 16 pounds.

In a letter cited by the Post from a broker at Shady Brook Farms, they said “the news is not promising,” referring to the “status of fresh, whole turkeys for Thanksgiving and Christmas.” The tight labor market combined with keeping employees safe during COVID-19 has hit the company hard.

Butterball, another well-known turkey brand, is feeling the pressure, too. "What consumers have told us up to this point is they are very excited about celebrating Thanksgiving,” Christa Leupen, a public relations manager, told Food & Wine: “They are committed to doing so with a turkey at the center of the table, so turkeys could be tight this year."

Remember last year when instead of having a 25-pound turkey for all your extended friends and family, you pared the group way down and had a 14-pound turkey? It looks like this year, many people may do something similar, which could greatly affect the shortage.

A smaller turkey means the bird has to be processed at a certain time. If there isn’t enough labor, the availability of the smaller birds will be limited. And when they are fresh, not frozen, they have to be slaughtered within a certain timeframe to get them to stores, which means more labor. Daniel Romanoff, president of the meat distributor Nebraskaland, told the Post that turkeys less than 14 pounds have a precise schedule “and the plants weren't able to keep up with that size."

This doesn’t mean that you won’t get a turkey for Thanksgiving. It just means you might have to settle for a larger and/or frozen bird, especially with the high likelihood that the holidays could have smaller gatherings again. Anyone for turkey soup?

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