Finance

Supply chain woes, inflation could push cost of Thanksgiving turkeys to highest levels

FILE – This Wednesday, April 11, 2012 file photo shows turkeys at a farm in Lebanon, Pa. The U.S. Department of Agriculture on Friday, Oct. 14, 2022 proposed sweeping changes in the way chicken and turkey meat is processed that are intended to reduce illnesses from food contamination but could require meat companies to make extensive changes to their operations. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

Thanksgiving turkeys will likely skyrocket in price this year due to inflation, supply chain issues and outbreaks of the avian flu among flocks.

Inflation and economic instability have caused turkey prices to shoot up as farmers pay more for their feed and labor, while supply shortages continue to affect the industry, according to The New York Times.

Supply chain issues began to affect turkey farms in 2019 and were exacerbated by two years of COVID-19 infections and restrictions, bringing prices for fresh, skinless turkey breasts up by 112 percent.

The Department of Agriculture found that the average price of frozen turkeys is up by 73 percent since last year.

On Wednesday, the wholesale price had inflated to $1.85 per pound, compared to 90 cents per pound in 2019, according to price reporting agency Urner Barry.

Natural causes have also harmed the turkey industry, including drought throughout the country and avian flu.

The Agriculture Department reports that 3.6 percent of turkeys nationwide have been killed by an aggressive strain of the flu this year.

More than 7 million of the birds infected during 2022 died of the avian influenza, rates of death peaking over the summer as Thanksgiving preparations began.

This week, new outbreaks were confirmed in Utah and Pennsylvania, adding on to the total of 42 states where the flu has spread.

Despite challenges, shoppers are likely to find turkeys in time for Thanksgiving, though they may not be as high quality and low priced as other years.

“They’ll find a turkey of some kind. It just might not be that nice 10-pounder,” Urner Barry Senior Vice President Russ Whitman told the Times of customers seeking birds.

“It’s essentially a ‘you’re going to take what you get and feel good about it’ situation.”

Tags department of agriculture holidays inflation supply chain
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