Thanksgiving turkey could be more expensive than usual this season because of nationwide bird flu outbreak thats already shortened the countrys supply prior to the holiday.
Among the countrys largest commercial turkey processors, Hormel Foods, anticipates that lower industry-wide turkey supplies [will] keep prices higher through the vacation, in accordance with Hormel CFO Jacinth Smiley on an earnings call this month. Hormels own supply, also hit by avian flu, is considerably lower this season, Food Dive reports.
With pricier turkeys and far fewer of these than normal, the race to snag the very best bird well before the vacation could be even fiercer this fall. But high prices would likely lower turkey consumption altogether round the holiday season. This past year, when fresh turkey prices rose 10% above those of 2020, turkey sales dropped 6%, in accordance with a Forbes report. Turkey shopping you can do earlier this season, too, plus some shoppers may opt instead for cheaper chicken or turkey breast, Carman Allison, a vice president at NielsenIQ, tells Forbes.
Avian influenza doesnt pose a health concern to humans, but its deadly to birds that contract it. To be able to contain outbreaks, farmers must kill entire flocks of turkeysand this season, they killed around 5.4 million turkeys between January and July because of exposure, based on the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Since mid-July of the year, 10 outbreaks have impacted roughly 617,200 birds in 39 states. July is also when producers begin raising Thanksgiving turkeys.
While outbreaks arent unusual by themselves, theyre normally halted by the onset of warmer weather. Thats false this season, with the flu persisting in to the hottest months and also in a late-summer heat wave in California.
Actually, this outbreak could match or outpace the worst in recent history: In 2015, the bird flu afflicted over 50 million turkeys before control measures and the sunshine saw it plateau. Since January of the year, 40.8 million birds have been suffering from the outbreak.