Turkeys Could be in Short Supply Over the Holidays as Producers Warn They're Struggling to Keep Up With Demand, a Report Says
Turkeys weighing 16 pounds or less are in short supply for the holiday season, grocery chains say.
American meat producers and distributors are sounding the alarm on a potential turkey shortage ahead of the holiday season.
"The news is not promising," a broker for Shady Brook Farms, one of the nation's largest turkey suppliers, said in a letter to retailers and distributors, according to a food seller who received it and spoke to the New York Post. The company also advised its vendors in July that "the industry continues to struggle with production issues," the Post reported, citing the letter.
"Shady Brook told us they could only give us 50% of the turkeys we need and want for the holidays," Stew Leonard, who owns Stew Leonard's grocery chain, told The Post.
Other meat suppliers have made similar warnings. The New York-based Morton Williams grocery chain was recently told by its vendors that it wouldn't get birds weighing less than 16 pounds, according to Morton Williams' meat buyer, Victor Colello, cited by the Post.
Birds weighing 16 pounds or less are more popular because they take less time to defrost and cook than heavier ones, experts told The Post. Heavier turkeys are more readily available, experts said.
Cargill, the US corporation which owns Shady Brook Farms, acknowledged the shortage to the Post, saying it was the result of "continuing to manage tight labor markets while working to keep employees safe from the impacts of COVID-19 in the communities where they operate."
"It is important to note," the company added, "that the overall frozen bird production remains the same compared to previous years though average bird weights are slightly higher for both fresh and frozen birds due processing delays."
These warnings are just the latest in a string of meat shortages that have rocked the US, amid the rising cost of raw supplies and a severe labor crunch.