COVID-19 influencing supply, demand, even size of Thanksgiving turkeys, economist says

There is a lot of uncertainty on how COVID-19 will impact the holiday season with Thanksgiving less than two weeks away.

COVID-19 influencing supply, demand, even size of Thanksgiving turkeys, economist says
Experts say families may take part in smaller gatherings with smaller spreads to consumers for Thanksgiving. The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service says turkey prices are up, but production is down.

(KTRE) - There is a lot of uncertainty on how COVID-19 will impact the holiday season with Thanksgiving less than two weeks away.

Some U.S. turkey farms, like in Illinois, are seeing an increase in production and sales in anticipation of more gatherings for Thanksgiving with a smaller number of attendees. But some livestock experts say that might not be the case here.

A recent survey by the Food Industry Association showed a third of Americans plan to have fewer people for Thanksgiving celebrations because of the pandemic.

“If we all have smaller gatherings that would imply consumers might buy a smaller bird,” Texas A&M professor and Extension Economist David Anderson said. “People may go ahead and buy the big one. If people have fewer people at their gatherings there may be more total gatherings. That just leaves a lot of uncertainty on how many turkeys we sell.”

Texas A&M professor and Extension Economist David Anderson says turkey production was down nearly eight percent just last month compared to October last year. He says wholesale prices are up 19% compared to 2019.

“Which usually translates to what we pay,” Anderson said. “But the turkey market is kind of different too in that when we go to the grocery store, it is pretty common to see some kind of special being run. You buy a turkey, and you get a discount on some other stuff, or if you buy all your Thanksgiving fixings for all your sides you might get a discount on the turkey.”

Corporate Affairs Manager for Kroger’s Dallas Division April Martin says in their stores, they will have essential items in stock.

“We will have turkeys of all sizes so no big change there,” Martin said.

“Particularly as folks are worried with seeing a ramp-up in cases of coronavirus, we all start getting worried there was plenty at the store and plenty of choices at least for our Thanksgiving turkey,” Anderson said.

“We do expect our stores to be full, but we also want our customers to know the supply chain is strong and healthy,” Martin said. “You should just shop responsibly We want people to enjoy the holidays and be safe.”

Even before the pandemic started, Anderson says the turkey industry had struggled with profitability in recent years with changing consumer demands in regards to deli meat.

Copyright 2020 KTRE. All rights reserved.