Turkey Shortage or not!

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As reported in The Hutchinson News: Experts say the U.S. will not experience a turkey shortage this Thanksgiving — at least not much of one.

Whether it is in a standard Butterball or a heritage breed, stores and markets say they will be well-stocked for the holiday.

“We may see a shorter supply of the frozen 10- to 14-pound size,” said Sheila Regehr, corporate affairs manager for Dillons. “But we’ll have plenty of the larger birds.” Regehr said Dillons, along with their parent company, Kroger, will have no shortage of fresh small, medium and large-sized birds.

Processors like Butterball, which plans to sell roughly one-third of the U.S. turkeys this Thanksgiving, are also optimistic. “With two weeks left until Thanksgiving, we can affirm that there will be Butterball turkeys available in stores this season,” said Christa Leupen of Butterball. “Thanksgiving (plans) begin more than a year in advance, and we work hard all year long with our retail partners, our network of turkey growers and our team members to ensure there is a variety of turkey sizes and products in stores for Thanksgiving.”

As for specialty growers who supply heritage, or pasture-raised and genetically unaltered birds, there is no shortage either. But, because of the increase in gas, transportation and feed costs, their prices have increased.

“These are challenging times, but overall we feel great about our ability to serve our customers’ needs throughout the holidays,” Regehr said. “With challenges in the supply chain, it has required a bit of nimbleness and ongoing proactiveness, but we feel ready to serve our customers this Thanksgiving.”

According to the National Turkey Federation, the U.S. is the largest turkey producer in the world. The NTF reports that in 2020 about 224 million birds were raised in the top turkey-producing states of Minnesota, North Carolina, Arkansas, Indiana, Missouri, Virginia, Iowa and California. This amount equals 7.3 billion pounds of turkey that were raised in more than 2,500 farms.

Regehr said their Midwestern stores already have frozen turkeys in stock and are getting fresh turkeys of all sizes in daily. Frozen turkeys can be purchased several weeks in advance and stored in the freezer, while fresh turkeys sold in November will be good until Thanksgiving if kept refrigerated.

Butterball recommends thawing frozen turkeys in the refrigerator one day for every 4 pounds of turkey. They, like some other companies, provide a 24-hour turkey hotline. Dillons offers a Turkey 101 website.

Butterball operates six processing plants in North Carolina, Arkansas and Missouri. Along with Butterball, Dillons sells Honeysuckle, Cargill and its organic brand. The organic label means the birds are raised without hormones and fed pesticide-free grains.

“At Dillons, we are expecting to see more customers trading up for a larger turkey and selecting specialty items like “oven-ready” turkeys, bone-in turkey breast or specialty turkey cuts,” Regehr said.

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