Bird flu sparks deli turkey shortage amid existing supply chain issues

Published: Aug. 12, 2022 at 10:52 AM CDT
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ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) – Supply chain issues and bird flu are making it harder for consumers to find turkey at grocery stores.

“I would say over the past two or three weeks here they’ve had a sign up saying there’s a shortage,” Lisa Andersen said of her recent shopping trips. “We’ve had some off-brands they don’t normally carry. Sometimes they are completely out.”

Some smaller companies can pivot from one supplier to another when supply gets low, but even so, it’s become a day-to-day guessing game.

“I can tell people we have turkey but tomorrow we won’t because the most recent supplier we found now is out of turkey,” Ed Gardeski, the general manager of a grocery store in Minnesota, explained.

Minnesota is the No. 1 turkey-producing state in the country, but even Gardeski said supply chain issues have been a problem since the beginning of the pandemic. This spring’s wave of bird influenza only compounded the issue.

“The main supplier for our deli slicing meat is about four months out now with getting that product back in,” Gardeski said.

While bird flu cases have dropped in Minnesota, there is concern a second wave of the flu could hit during the fall migration.

The good news is that deli meat should eventually catch up, and the USDA is not anticipating a turkey shortage for Thanksgiving.

Gardeski said consumers should think about placing their turkey orders earlier this year, just in case.

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