Nov 2, 2022 - Economy

Turkey shortage looming on bigger birds this Thanksgiving

Turkey prices are up because of the bird flu and it'll also be harder to find bigger turkeys this year. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

The U.S. government is warning of a big shortage of big birds this Thanksgiving.

Why it matters: Because of this year's avian flu outbreaks, finding 20-pound turkeys in some regions of the country could be challenging, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack said in a call with reporters on Tuesday.

  • The bird flu has killed more than 8 million turkeys, according to CDC data.

What they're saying: "Some of the turkeys that are being raised right now for Thanksgiving may not have the full amount of time to get to 20 pounds," Vilsack said on the call, which was about the administration's effort to reduce meat and poultry prices in the long-term.

  • "I don't think you're going to have to worry about whether or not you can carve your turkey on Thanksgiving," Vilsack said. "It's going to be there, maybe smaller, but it'll be there."

Thanksgiving turkey prices up

Meanwhile, turkey prices are up around 28% compared to this time last year, USDA data shows.

  • The price of an eight to 16-pound turkey has risen to $1.47 a pound, up from $1.15 last year.
  • The recent Consumer Price Index showed prices for uncooked poultry, which includes turkey, increased 17% in September from the same month last year.

Between the lines: It's not just turkeys that will cost more this Thanksgiving.

  • Everything from potatoes to gravy is expected to cost more too.
  • Rising turkey costs are expected to impact food banks: City Harvest, a food rescue organization in New York City, is expecting to spend $100,000 more than last year on turkeys.

Flashback: Last Thanksgiving, a 16-pound turkey cost $24, about $5 more than the average cost in 2020, according to the American Farm Bureau's holiday survey.

What we're watching: The Farm Bureau's Thanksgiving survey is expected to be released later this month.

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