Here’s Why You Should Probably Get That Thanksgiving Turkey Now

A Thanksgiving dinner on a table with a juicy turkey in the middle of various side dishes.
Bochkarev Photography/Shutterstock.com

Sure, it’s only September, but this year, now’s the time to start planning for Thanksgiving—especially if you want to serve turkey.

Unfortunately, it appears turkeys could be hard to come by the closer we get to Thanksgiving. A whirlwind of food shortages, higher prices, and shipping issues mean you might want to go ahead and buy that bird now.

“Holiday food shopping this year will be more challenging than ever,” said Phil Lempert, food trends analyst and editor of SupermarketGuru. “The perfect storm of climate change, especially the wildfires in the West, has destroyed some crops which has driven up the cost of soy and corn feeds for animals, which translated to increased costs for the farmer, and, therefore, the shopper.”

Lempert says to plan ahead, specifically for animal-based products, like beef, pork, chicken, eggs, and milk. He explained that transportation costs have risen by roughly 10%, and there’s also a driver shortage. The combination has resulted in items not getting to markets as quickly, causing a short supply on shelves.

The good news is, though, there isn’t actually a turkey shortage. It’s the supply chain issues causing the scarcity. In fact, Beth Breeding, vice president of communications and marketing for the National Turkey Federation, said there’s plenty of turkey for Thanksgiving. The caveat is you just might not be able to get exactly the one you want.

“If families have a preference for a fresh turkey,” said Breeding, “a specific size turkey, or a particular turkey cut, such as a bone-in breast, we recommend planning ahead with your local retailer to ensure you are able to get exactly the holiday turkey you want.”

Given the early planning, you might also want to consider serving some less traditional sides if the Stove Top stuffing shelf is empty too.

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