Smaller-sized turkeys may be in short supply this Thanksgiving, warns Butterball

ByMichael Finney KGO logo
Tuesday, October 12, 2021
Smaller-sized turkeys may be in short supply this Thanksgiving
If you want a smaller turkey for Thanksgiving this year, you might want to put in your order early.

A major poultry producer is warning that some turkeys may be in short supply this Thanksgiving.

It's a pattern that some of you experienced first-hand last Thanksgiving. This year, once again, the pandemic is being blamed for a shortage of smaller-size turkeys.

COVID changed the way many of us celebrate Thanksgiving. The large family gatherings and parties have given way to more intimate get-togethers.

Angela Wilson owns Avenado's Holly Park Market in San Francisco.

"Last year there was a lot more smaller turkey demand because of COVID," she said.

That lead to a shortage.

Many families were either forced to forego the turkey or buy a larger one and eat lots of leftovers.

A recent survey by Butterball found that pattern is not likely to change this year.

"We did see that about a third of consumers are planning to have a smaller gathering this year due to concerns about COVID-19 and the Delta variant," said Rebeca Welch of Butterball.

That means if you're likely to need a smaller turkey this year, she think it's best to put in your order early.

"We do see that if there is a big shift towards people wanting to celebrate in smaller groups, that smaller turkeys may be harder to come by," she warned.

However, retailers 7 On Your Side reached out to aren't ready to acknowledge a turkey shortage just yet.

Save Mart, which also owns Lucky Supermarkets, told us it has already "secured the turkeys to ensure customers find everything they need."

Albertsons, which also owns Safeway, did not get back to us and Costco bluntly stated "management has no comment at this time."

Local butchers 7 On Your Side talked to think the shortage may hit the larger chains harder, but independent markets will do just fine.

Guerra Quality Meats in San Francisco will begin taking orders for fresh turkeys on November 1. It anticipates getting its first shipment in a week before Thanksgiving from a small California supplier, Diestel Turkey ranch.

"They're a family-run operation much like we are. We've been dealing with them for over 30 years and we have no problems getting our turkeys this year," said owner Robert Guerra.

Avenado's will also begin taking orders November 1, and like Guerra, anticipates no problem meeting the demand.

"We have size ranges. They go from like 8 to 10, 10 to 12, 12 to 14, 16 to 18 and once those are sold, that's it," Wilson said.

Other reasons cited for a possible turkey shortage include a lack of truck drivers and a labor shortfall due to COVID.