Experts Say You’re Not Alone In Wanting A Smaller Thanksgiving Turkey This Year

The holidays are shaping up to look pretty different this year as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. While it’s still about a month and a half away, food industry experts are already expecting Thanksgiving in particular to be a smaller affair for many this year, which is expected to affect what we cook, namely the famous turkey.
The New York Times recently cited surveys conducted by Butterball, Hormel Foods, Kroger and more, all of which seemed to find a large amount of customers who plan to hold smaller gatherings or only host their immediate family for Thanksgiving this year. In fact, a recent survey by market research firm Numerator found that almost 70 percent of Americans are switching up their typical Thanksgiving plans this year. Because of this, many grocery chains are increasing orders for smaller turkeys to accommodate them.
“The buying arms of the major retailers and distributors are definitely trying to slant their purchases toward smaller turkeys,” Russ Whitman, senior vice president at Urner Barry, a commodity market research firm, told CNN on the subject.
Because of this, CNN said that many farmers are trying to harvest turkeys earlier than normal in order to get smaller birds, so you might see more of them in stores this year, yes. But The New York Times also pointed out that many contracts are cemented up to a year in advance and it can be tough to change things now. In other words, don’t expect there to be a shortage of large birds.
“It’s not an industry in which you can quickly pivot,” said John Peterson, whose family has owned the 140-acre Ferndale Market in Cannon Falls, MN., for 80 years, told The Times. “For us to have any meaningful impact on changing anything for Thanksgiving, those decisions had to be made in March or April.”
Even for those stores and farmers who are focusing on small turkeys, it remains unclear if this is what customers will want. Most are unsure about how exactly customers will alter their menus: Will they buy turkey breasts, larger chickens, or yes, opt for smaller turkeys? Grocery stores are simply taking a guess in many cases, and it seems like most will have a little bit of everything. There are perks to each, depending on how you’ll be celebrating and how creative you’re willing to get in the kitchen.
But experts seem pretty convinced that people will continue to celebrate Thanksgiving no matter how it looks. And it seems like no matter what type of protein you’re looking for, it will likely be available this year. Oh, and if you do find yourself with a large supply of turkey on your hands, check out some of our leftovers ideas so none of it goes to waste.

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