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Officials push back on claims of a Thanksgiving turkey shortage

October 12, 2015 Photo; For Use With AP Lifestyles
Posted at 12:02 PM, Nov 18, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-18 12:02:16-05

Despite fewer turkeys being produced ahead of this year’s Thanksgiving, the U.S. Department of Agriculture proclaimed that “anyone who wants a bird will be able to get one.”

Highly pathogenic avian influenza, otherwise known as bird flu, has caused the loss of 8 million birds since February, the USDA said. The USDA acknowledged that to help offset losses, some producers processed birds at an earlier age. This could result in stores being stocked with smaller turkeys.

The USDA also said some producers were more impacted than others by the bird flu.

USDA livestock analyst Shayle Shagam said that 8 million birds represent about the same number of turkeys processed in half a month. While overall inflation has affected turkey prices, so too has bird flu, Shagam said.

The USDA said the retail per pound turkey price is up 57% from a year ago, but Shagam said that some stores might lower the cost of turkeys.

“How big retailers go forward with higher wholesale prices may depend on the marketing strategy of the retailer,” Shagam said. “They may choose to treat this as a significant loss leader, sort of hold the line on retail prices, or offer discounts on retail prices to encourage consumers to come to the store to make purchases.”