There's a reason that people call Thanksgiving "Turkey Day", it's because the main attraction at each Thanksgiving day meal is the bird. But as Americans prepare for the Holiday season to arrive, some officials are warning of a potential Turkey shortage.
Experts in the meat production and distribution industries are sounding the alarm right now that turkeys are going to be much harder to get a hold of in supermarkets and retail locations this year.
Those experts say the reason turkey is so hard to find this year, is because production for turkey has slowed recently because of decreasing demand. Add to that the rising cost of production and the pandemic's impact on meat production and distribution, you have an industry struggling to keep up with sudden demand.
The good news is that you will have better luck finding a bigger bird. Industry experts say that turkeys 16 pounds and up will be much easier to find. But that's the problem a lot of people might have. For the last few years, reports show that the most popular sized turkey for Thanksgiving and Christmas meals was around 14 pounds.
Ultimately the problem seems to come down to size. Typically bigger birds are less popular because of the amount of work that goes into thawing, preparing, and cooking the bird. But smaller turkeys are usually fresh and not frozen, and that makes cooking those birds easier and puts the food on the table a little quicker. Smaller birds are harder to farm because you have to catch them at the exact right time close to the holiday season, or else they just keep growing.
So what can you do to avoid a bird-less holiday season? Well here's a couple things experts recommend.
The first is to just stick with a bigger frozen bird. Ultimately the quality will be the same if you cook it correctly, but you will have to adjust your cooking schedule to allow time to thaw and cook thoroughly. If you go with this plan, one word of advice is get a plan ready to store all that leftover turkey.
The second recommendation; buy now. One spokesperson with Shady Brooks Farms, which is one of the nation's largest turkey providers, says that the status of fresh whole turkeys for Christmas and Thanksgiving is "not promising". With that being said, there are some turkeys at your grocery store now. If you have the space available in your freezer, you could grab two turkeys right now in preparation.
If that doesn't work, find an alternative that works for your group. You could have a Thanksgiving with an extra emphasis on the sides, just double up those portions of mashed potatoes and green bean casserole. Our treat this as an opportunity to try something you've never done before! Maybe a porchetta, or lamb, or maybe even goose!
The last thing experts say you could try, is keep it simple and serve up a crowd pleasing option. Some of the most stressful moments of the holidays happen in the kitchen. So why not save yourself the trouble and make the meals more fun! Share a big pan of lasagna or set up a make your own pizza and burger station.
Ultimately it's your decision to make, but you have to make it quick. Supermarkets and grocery stores have already started cutting their turkey orders by amounts as big as 50%.