Thanksgiving 2021: Will There be Turkey on the Table?


Alex Chizzik, Staff Writer

When you hear the word “Thanksgiving,” what immediately comes to mind? Most people would answer, “Turkey!” The National Turkey Federation (NTF) says that 95% of Americans usually have a turkey on their dinner table, and over 46 million turkeys are consumed each year on this day. However, this year, Thanksgiving dinner might look a little different.

In today’s COVID world, people are finding many products on the market to be very scarce and challenging to acquire. Prices have increased for all products, particularly in meats and poultry. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) reports that frozen turkey prices have surged over 22% from the last holiday season. While there are turkeys that will be available for this year’s Thanksgiving, they might be difficult to obtain. Because of COVID, many farmers were unable to work and raise as many of their usually available turkeys.

Although the number of turkeys available for the holiday season have  decreased since the pandemic, there are still many available. “COVID has created an inflationary environment,” Andrew Kent, Executive Vice President of Glass Gardens ShopRite, said. Because of the pandemic, the number of staff in slaughterhouses, meat facilities, and other locations have decreased. Many companies have enforced a vaccination requirement, which has substantially decreased the number of staff able to work in these facilities. Kent explained that the “Cost of poultry is up… butchers are scarce, and they have to socially distance.” Since the pandemic’s onset almost two years ago, there have been fewer staff who have the ability to work and raise poultry. 

 Kent also explained how “in beef and red meat, the inflation is extreme––more so than [in] poultry.” Meat shortages have persisted throughout the pandemic, and unfortunately, do not have an expected end. However, Americans celebrating Thanksgiving this year can still expect to have turkeys available for the holiday. “Supply chain retailers like ShopRite commit to their frozen turkeys a full year in advance,” according to Kent. These turkeys are stored in a frozen warehouse throughout the year prior to the holiday season. “We feel very confident that we are going to be able to deliver all the frozen turkeys people are looking for,” Kent said.

Even though Thanksgiving will be a little different this year, everyone should still be able to acquire turkeys to celebrate the holiday. The pandemic has made us all reflect on ourselves and realize what we are most thankful for. Hopefully, everyone is able to give thanks and celebrate the holiday with family and friends.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!