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Marketplace

Turkey shortage could hurt food banks at Thanksgiving

Annie Baxter Nov 5, 2015
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Bird flu cost producers about 8 million turkeys this past spring. The diminished supplies are now resulting in wholesale prices 30 percent higher than they were two years ago. 

“Not only are the prices higher on wholesale turkeys and turkey breast meat than at any time in recorded history, but the available supplies are at their lowest,” said Russell Whitman with the commodity market reporting firm Urner Barry.

Whitman said there should be enough birds to meet consumer demand at Thanksgiving. How much retailers will raise prices is unclear.

But he said food banks, which have less purchasing power than retailers, will likely have a tougher time getting birds — through purchase or donation.

“It’s just simply the birds are not there,” he said.

Whitman said he expects supplies will be back to normal by the middle of next year.

Some turkey producers who were hit early in the spring outbreak of bird flu are already operating again, according to National Turkey Federation spokesman Keith Williams.

“They have fresh poults down and those are growing and about to go to market, many of them,” he said.

Williams said those affected later in the outbreak, which stretched until June, may still be restocking their flocks or preparing to do so. 

He added that food banks lacking an adequate supply of Thanksgiving turkeys should contact his organization.

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