Americans consume 46 million turkeys every Thanksgiving and another 22 million at Christmas. It’s not even Halloween yet, so circumstances may change, but current Thanksgiving projections are looking good for everyone except the birds.
“Last year we saw a record number of Thanksgiving celebrations because a lot of people were celebrating Thanksgiving with just their family,” says Christa Leupen, spokesperson for Butterball. There was talk last year of a shortage of smaller turkeys, but an argument can be made that that led to a surplus of leftovers and who can complain about that?
Leupen says prices are set by grocery stores, and offers a hint that retailers often use the bird to draw in the shopper on the expectation that profits can be generated selling the ingredients for side dishes. Prices for turkeys were down 7% last year, but increases in labor and shipping costs could return us to pre-pandemic levels this year. Most meats – beef, poultry and fish – are up, so don’t be surprised if you pay slightly more for turkey. The annual “average cost of the Thanksgiving dinner” hasn’t been released yet, but expect to pay a little more.
“We’re seeing about a third of consumers considering a smaller gathering again this year, so we’re expecting demand to be similar to what we saw last year,” adds Leupen. The frozen turkeys have largely already been hatched and frozen, and quantities are sufficient to meet expected demand. If there is to be a problem, it’s expected in fresh birds.
There remains uncertainty about how Thanksgiving will be impacted this year by Covid, but discovered last year even a pandemic won’t stop holiday traditions. The bird and trimmings will be available, it’s the prices we’re not sure about.
If you run into problems or have questions, preheat the oven and call the Butterball talk line.
photo: Getty Images