We are facing a record-high cost for a traditional Thanksgiving turkey this fall due to inflation, supply issues and a shortage caused by bird flu outbreaks.

The cost of turkey hens (females under 21lbs) is up 57% compared to its five-year average, according to market data from research firm, Urner Barry. Turkey breast meat has made it to a record cost, representing almost a 300% increase since 2019. Breast meat has been hit particularly hard because stocks of frozen breast meat ran low during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Overall, the supply of turkey is lower than normal this year due to a severe bird flu outbreak that has disrupted production across the United States. Through September, the outbreak has affected approximately 45 million turkeys across the country, with more exposures expected during this period of higher demand.

To make it worse, supermarkets are unlikely to receive their usual shipments of turkeys, brines, rubs and other complimentary items (think cranberry sauce) ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday. These shortages mean many grocers (Joe’s included) are shortening their sales cycles while waiting on the certain availability of product before committing to sell them online or in-store.

What does this mean for Joe’s Farm Fresh Turkeys? Fortunately, the flu has not affected our flock in St. Mary’s, OH. Thanks to preventative methods such as delivery truck washing and keeping other birds from nesting near our turkeys, we have not seen a case in the entire county.

What we have not been immune to is the rising cost of feed, labor and supplies. We use non-GMO grain to feed our birds and raise them to Global Animal Welfare level S4, meaning they are pasture-raised.

We still process just before Thanksgiving, meaning your Joe’s Farm Fresh Turkey is truly fresh and cooks much faster than a store bought “fresh” bird. Did you know the USDA allows grocery stores to sell Turkey as “fresh” instead of “frozen” as long as it hasn’t been stored below 26 degrees for more than six months?

Maintaining our standards and quality has been a challenge but we have been able to do so with whole bird retail prices rising $0.50/lb compared to 2021. Turkey breast prices have increased over 20% as the shortage of turkey breast nationwide has pushed production to try and meet demand. This has resulted in the inability to receive a return on dark meat—the supply of dark meat is plentiful, as whole birds are used for breasts. Price increases for our Joe’s Farm Fresh Turkey dark meat have jumped only 6%.

With household budgets under severe pressure what are some good alternatives for Thanksgiving other than the traditional turkey?

NY Strip Loin: Roasting a whole NY strip loin has been a holiday favorite around our house for years. Yes, they are much leaner than a rib roast, but as long as they are not cooked more than medium rare, they are one of the best slicing roasts around. When compared to a rib roast or beef tenderloin, they are priced quite well too!

Here’s a Recipe!

Bone-in Pork Roast: Bone-in pork roasts are the superior roasting option compared to a boneless pork roast on a few levels. They are the prime rib of pork! Just like beef, that savory ribeye cap muscle is the best part of the pig. Since it stays on the bone, bone-in pork roasts help us amateur chefs retain moisture in our meats by protecting them from direct heat. Again, leaning away from overcooking is the key to ending up with a juicy, succulent roast! At less than half the price of beef, it’s a bargain as well.

Here’s a Recipe!

Sirloin Roast: Nothing feeds a hungry family like a sirloin roast. Top sirloin is not only a great family treat, but it performs well the next day for cold cuts. Remember, these lean cuts of meat mustn’t be overcooked! I can honestly say nothing hits the spot quite like a top sirloin roast with mashed potatoes!

Here’s a Recipe!

With this being said, if a Joe’s Farm Fresh Turkey is a tradition that you dare not part with, rest assured, we are still raising our turkeys to our exacting standards. They are non-GMO fed, antibiotic and growth hormone-free, fed a vegetarian diet and raised to the sustainable standards of the Global Animal Welfare partnership.

We should have online turkey ordering ready before October 20th so watch your email, social media and our website for our online Thanksgiving storefront!