Is there Really a Turkey Shortage?

An average of 46 million turkeys are eaten on Thanksgiving each year in the United States. This year, however, experts have predicted that turkeys will be in a shortage, as supply chains across the country continue to struggle. Turkeys are high in demand yet low in supply, which could leave some American families without a traditional Thanksgiving dinner this holiday season.  

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the inventory of frozen turkey was 24% lower than the yearly average. High costs of shipping and nationwide labor shortages are major factors of this issue. The decrease in turkey availability lies not with a shortage of actual turkeys, but rather with the ability to process, transport, and stock them. Unlike previous years, it seems that turkeys of smaller size are higher in demand. This is likely a result of the pandemic, as people are having smaller gatherings with fewer guests.

The United States National Turkey Federation reported that 224 million turkeys were raised in the states of North Carolina, Arkansas, Indiana, Missouri, Virginia, Iowa, and California last year. This year does not fall short of that number in terms of turkey production. Rather, compounding economic issues in the country have increased in which it takes turkeys to arrive at stores. Furthermore, there are not enough laborers to package and stock the birds.  

When asked if she had any problems finding a turkey this year, junior Ava Schwam said, “This year, just like any other, I was able to secure a 21-pound turkey right in time for Thanksgiving. My family and I had no issue finding it, either.” Schwam was able to get her turkey in the first weekend of November, which is much earlier than most begin their turkey hunt.  

Not everyone was as successful as Schwam. Junior Abbey McManus had trouble finding a turkey the weekend before Thanksgiving. “I had to go to three grocery stores to find the fifteen-pound turkey that my family needs for our celebration.” She continued, “It wasn’t too much of a hassle, but it was certainly an annoyance. It probably has more to do with waiting too long rather than a severe shortage of turkeys.”