Restaurants and families alike will be feeling the steep price for turkey in the coming months. While inflationary pressures are impacting all goods and services, turkey farmers have also been dealing with the bird flu decimating supply.
According to data from the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF), all food prices were up 11.4% year-over-year in August. That’s not from farmers taking extra profit, as the USDA predicted record high production costs with an increase of 17.8% from 2021 according to their Farm Sector Income Forecast.
Highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI), also known as bird flu or avian flu, is a virus that highly contagious among birds and is transmissible to humans, according to the CDC. As such, when poultry is infected, the whole herd is culled to eradicate the disease.
We heard from Tim Mikeska, CEO of Mikeska Brands via email and from his appearance on the BBQ Central Show that bird flu has had a large impact on turkey farms this year. Tim’s family has been in the BBQ business down in Taylor, TX for over 80 years.
A few more very large, turkey farms, had to destroy their herd in late summer because of the avian flu. It was believed most of that was over with, but that mandatory destruction of those birds was a big loss.Tim Mikeska, CEO of Mikeska Brands
Less supply, means increased prices and limited availability. The AFBF reported that the retail price for fresh boneless, skinless turkey breast was at a record high of $6.70 per pound in September. That’s a 112% increase over 2021 before you even get to the increased cost of sides.
How hard it will be to find a turkey to your liking also depends on the size of the bird.
20 pound large birds will be in very short supply since most of the producers send those to deli processing. Costco and Sam’s executed large contracts for 12lb hens. Also, contracts for boneless turkey breast. That’s above and beyond the pressure all those other grocery retailers across the US put on the market.Tim Mikeska, CEO of Mikeska Brands
Buy Turkey Early
Despite the higher price this year, if you want to make sure you get a turkey, buy one early and keep it frozen. As Tim Mikeska notes, supply could get short as we get closer to Thanksgiving.
they believe 12 pound hens should have availability in the next 12+ days but they may be short closer to Thanksgiving.Tim Mikeska, CEO of Mikeska Brands