If you’re an American and the joy of Thanksgiving makes you anxious, think about how turkeys must be feeling. This year brings them a break. The pandemic is dragging on into the fall, which means sales of gobblers are expected to drop.
Turkey is still the centerpiece of most Thanksgiving meals in the United States. About 46 million of them are consumed around the November holidays. But travel restrictions and social estrangement mean family reunions will often be less important in November.
Nearly three-quarters of Americans said they plan to limit meeting size during the holiday season, according to data from pollster Morning Consult. A separate survey by the big turkey producer Butterball showed that 30% of those surveyed planned to host only their immediate family this year, up from 18% last year.
Sounds bad for turkey sales. Cooking a giant bird makes less sense when there are fewer people around the dining table.
Butterball believes that smaller gatherings would actually increase the demand for turkeys. People will always want to celebrate Thanksgiving, he says. But the business is surely hanging on to straws – or perhaps more aptly, to feathers. Its other big market is sliced turkey. This was seriously compromised by the closure of sandwich shops, cafeterias and gyms.
That said, annual turkey consumption has almost doubled since the 1970s. Last year, 5.3 billion pounds of turkey were eaten in the United States, or about 16 pounds per person. Prices have held up lately. The drop in production offset the drop in demand. According to USDA data, average weekly spot prices for wholesale frozen hens and “toms,” as male birds are called, are both up one-fifth from the year’s average. last. Any disruption in America’s tradition of eating turkey this year is expected to be temporary. This waddling sphere of your local farm still lives on borrowed time.
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