5 Considerations for Your Thanksgiving Turkey

By The Dirt To Dinner Team November 13, 2020

Global Food

5 Considerations for Your Thanksgiving Turkey

Food Security

By The Dirt To Dinner Team November 13, 2020

Whether you’re looking for quick information, or want something to impress your friends at dinner, here’s our Featured 5 of the Week!

When Covid swept through our nation, it took red meat, milk, and a lot of toilet paper with it — showing shortages of products across the supply chain. With Thanksgiving so close, can we expect the same thing with our turkeys?

5. The Number of Turkeys Grown Did Not Change

Covid brought turkey production down a few percentage points this year by impacting supply and demand, thus slowing down parts of the supply chain. This created a back-up at the processing facilities in spring and early summer, which in turn did have an effect on the weight of some turkeys, however not enough for us to see any difference in the grocery stores.

When production slowed down, turkeys had to keep getting fed, so they gained more weight than companies originally thought they would, but it did not change the number of turkeys grown. We will still see the same amount of turkeys on the shelves at the same weights we usually see them.

4. Retailers Settled On Amounts and Prices Before Covid Hit

Every January, retailers negotiate with turkey producers on how many frozen turkeys they want to buy for the upcoming Thanksgiving and at what prices they will pay per pound. In late summer, they do the same thing for fresh turkeys.

This means that retailers will carry the same amount of turkeys, at a similar cost as they do every year since these decisions are pre-set.  Right now, frozen turkeys are already on the shelves and will continue to be stocked right up until Thanksgiving day. Fresh turkeys are just starting to appear now. So, there is no reason to go out and stock up on turkeys. There is plenty to go around!

3. Size May Matter

Many believe there will be a higher demand for smaller birds this year because Thanksgiving gatherings will be with immediate families rather than extended. Due to this projection, any families may keep dinners small to limit the spread of COVID-19.

Conversely, others believe that consumers will still get the same big turkey they normally do because they want to go all out this year due to a lack of normalcy. And, you know what big turkeys mean? More leftovers!

So, if you do want a small turkey or any of a certain size, it may be smarter to shop for one earlier rather than later. But, if you’re like us and still want that big turkey to have lots of yummy leftovers, shop as you normally would—both sizes will be available!

2. Frozen vs. Fresh

Like we said above, the amount of frozen and fresh turkeys hasn’t changed. Similarly, the window for producing fresh turkeys hasn’t changed either. The difference is that fresh turkeys have a limited shelf life. Between leaving the warehouse to being stocked at the grocery store and getting home to the consumer, there is a smaller window for fresh birds prior to needing to be cooked.

There is a common misperception among consumers that fresh is better. However, this is not always true, as there are definitely upsides to frozen. More nutrients may be retained in frozen birds, moisture is locked in so frozen turkeys tend to be less dry, and there is less of a chance for bacteria growth and food poisoning since the bird is stored in a temperature-controlled environment and the consumer controls the defrost process.

So if you’re thinking of getting a fresh bird this year, reconsider frozen. You may be surprised!

1. Do NOT Panic-buy!

The supply of turkeys from last year vs. this year has remained the same, so there is no reason to stock up on turkeys.

Both producers, processors, and grocery stores have done everything possible to make sure that every American has a turkey on their Thanksgiving table this year. Panic-buying will only cause local shortages — so shop smart, shop calmly, and make this holiday the best one yet!

For more information, check out the full article on Thanksgiving turkeys here. And be sure to safely cook your turkey with our tips here!

The Bottom Line

In this unprecedented time, the holidays should be something to bring joy and happiness to everyone. Don’t ruin it for others by unnecessarily stocking up on common holiday foods. And, go for the big turkey and enjoy all those leftovers! We know we will! Happy Thanksgiving!