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Turkeys in tight supply, will cost more

Being able to find the right turkey this holiday season could prove quite the task.

In light of the current supply chain issues, it would be wise for shoppers to snatch up that tom turkey before it’s too late.

Compared to last year, turkey production has decreased this year in the United States, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Meanwhile, the price per pound of turkey has increased due to lowered production expectations, according to a recent report by the USDA.

Tracking the shortage

David Jaindl, owner and operator of Jaindl Farms, Orefield, said that while turkeys may be taut overall, that isn’t necessarily the case everywhere.

“Speaking for ourselves, we’re prepared for the market, prepared for the holidays as we have been for all the previous years that we’ve been in business,” Jaindl said. “Turkeys are in tight supply, but they are not in Orefield.”

Turkeys are harder to find elsewhere.

“We are getting calls from other retailers that their suppliers cannot meet the demand, so we’re getting some of those calls,” he said. “That’s an indication that turkeys are in tight supply.”

The shortage does exist to a degree, according to Barb Koch, sales, Koch’s Turkey Farm in Walker Township.

“There’s definitely a turkey shortage of frozen small turkeys,” Koch said. “I get calls and emails every day from other companies looking for turkeys, frozen small turkeys.”

Koch added the business is sticking with what works best.

“We’re not doing any extra sales, and we’re not taking new customers this year so that we can take care of all our regular existing customers,” she said. “It is very busy; it has been really busy since the pandemic last year.”

Koch said there are other driving factors.

“The ground turkey sales have really grown tremendously, and like everybody else, we’re struggling with high feed cost, short supplies, almost everything, and of course tight labor,” she said. “No matter who I talk to, they’re all dealing with the same thing, any kind of business.”

Koch said it’s been even more taxing this year than last.

“This year, there are even more challenges than last year,” she said. “I think we have been inundated from concerned customers worried that they’re going to get turkeys.

Most turkeys should be available

At Giant, the turkey buying season is just getting underway, said Ashley Flower, manager, public relations, the Giant Company.

“We have a wide variety of turkeys available, and are not anticipating any supply issues when it comes to turkeys, though smaller sizes are expected go quickly like last year,” Flower said. “Our buying team has done a great job readying for the season, and ensuring our customers have the selection they’ve come to expect from Giant.”

Flower noted that as part of the Choice Rewards Free Turkey Program, customers can begin converting 400 Choice Rewards points for a free turkey (or other select reward options) now through Nov. 25, which can be done online via the app or web, or they can receive a printed paper certificate in-store.

She said that from Nov. 12-25, customers can redeem for a free frozen Giant brand turkey (limit 20 pounds) or $1/pound off any other turkey (limit 20 pounds). Tofurkey and Stouffer’s party size lasagna are also available as free alternatives. Customers can also redeem in store or online.

Customers may also donate their free turkey to the local food bank by turning the paper certificate in at the register or by redeeming points online via the app/web.

The shortage isn’t quite as big as it’s been made out to be, according to Karan Patel, owner of Mallard Markets in Lehighton.

“So far, I don’t really have a concern for turkeys,” Patel said. “I’m not really that worried; I think we should be (fine) with the turkeys.”

Patel added that he doesn’t believe there should be a problem this year.

“I don’t really think there’s going to be a supply issue, but I do think it’s going to be more in cost than what people are used to,” he said. “The price will probably be higher than what it was the last few years; really just from communication with all the suppliers.”

Koch said believes all companies will be like hers in that they will take care of their regular customers.

“I don’t think people need to worry like they are,” Koch said. “I think it will be fine.”

A look at a turkey inside the frozen case at Country Harvest Family Market in Palmerton. Turkeys could be in tight supply this holiday season. TERRY AHNER/TIMES NEWS