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Is there a turkey shortage in the U.S.? Here's what we found

Walmart Is Selling Smaller Turkeys This Year
Posted at 5:44 AM, Nov 18, 2021

(WXYZ) — Properly thawing out your frozen turkey may not be your biggest challenge this Thanksgiving – it may be finding the turkey, or forking out more money for it.

Shortages are happening in all aspects of the holidays. Some families may still want the big bird, even despite the shortage, and are even buying ingredients earlier.

Is there a turkey shortage? Not for Christine Roperti and her family. Raising the Wilford white turkeys on their five-acre farm in Livonia has been a family tradition since 1948, producing what she calls the tastiest turkeys around.

“Because they’re fed the best they can eat. They’re not pumped with any preservatives or additives, and it’s mostly corn," Roperti said.

Related: Survey finds average cost of Thanksgiving dinner is up 14% this year

What surprised her this year? She sold out of turkeys a week earlier than usual, and Roperti said she had more first-time customers.

The Ropertis raised the same number of turkeys for 2021 – 4,400 – but the cost of raising them went up. She had to pas that cost along to customers.

“I’m charging 20-cents more [per pound] because my bags are more money this year, my boxes were more money, my turkey feed was more money, and my turkeys were more money," she said.

Farm Field Table, with shops in Ferndale and Grosse Pointe Park, expected more demand this Thanksgiving.

"We ordered over 700 turkeys this year. We’re getting close [to selling out]. We have under 100 available," Abby Stark, the GM said.

They ordered from farms in Michigan's thumb. Stark said the turkey shortage is coming from the hatcheries this year.

The USDA reports frozen turkey inventories are 24% below three-year average volumes.

AgAmerica, which offers loans to farmers across the country, said turkey production is at its lowest point in six years, and pounds of turkey meat in cold storage are the lowest in more than a decade.

Meijer has plenty of turkeys for sale, but there's a note below the "add to cart" button on its website indicating: "This product has quantity limits due to limited stock."

It's not just turkeys. The same note is posted online with Meijer's Tyson Cornish Hens and other items.

Roperti is just grateful customers came flocking to the farm early this year. She has reserved 100 turkeys for what she calls "Walk-in Wednesday," on the day before Thanksgiving for any customers who forgot to make their order ahead of time.

If you still haven't bought your bird yet, check with your local meat shop to see how inventory is, or buy directly from a local farmer while supplies last.