Could a turkey shortage fowl up holiday tables?

By Jenni Spinner

- Last updated on GMT

Butterball is reporting a shortage of fresh large turkeys for Thanksgiving 2013.
Butterball is reporting a shortage of fresh large turkeys for Thanksgiving 2013.

Related tags Bird

Top turkey producer Butterball reports that challenges with this year’s crop could keep fresh birds off of some Thanksgiving tables this year.

Butterball representative Stephanie Llorente told that the company’s supply of fresh birds expected to flock toward 2013 Thanksgiving feasts ended up on a little on the scrawny side.

We experienced a decline in weight gains on some of our farms, causing a limited availability of large, fresh turkeys​,” she said. “While we are continuing to evaluate all potential causes, we are working to remedy the issue​.”

Supply down by half

Retailers in various parts of the country report a 50% decline in availability of Butterball’s higher-weight fresh turkeys for the Thanksgiving rush. The shortage affects birds weighing 16 lbs. or more.

However, Butterball's frozen turkeys reportedly will fly into retailers as expected. Also, the company expects to fulfill orders for fresh birds weighing 15 lbs. or less.

Butterball has shipped 100% of customer orders of frozen whole turkeys and products are in distribution across the country​,” Llorente said.

Most turkeys purchased frozen

Fortunately, hungry holiday partygoers likely will not be left without birds on the table. While many cooks prefer fresh birds, the National Turkey Federation reports that 85% of turkeys served during the holidays are purchased as frozen.

While Americans munch on turkey all year round (with per capita consumption hovering around 20 lbs for each person), the end of the year sees a surge in purchase of whole birds.

Butterball is one of the top-ranked US poultry purveyors, along with Hormel, Cargill and Perdue. In addition to fresh and frozen turkeys, the company produces deli meats, ground turkey products, and ready-to-eat turkey-based products.

Related topics Processing & packaging

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