Local grocers talk about price and size of turkey

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SIOUX FALLS, SD (KELO) — Cooks will likely get their sought-after turkey this Thanksgiving, but it will cost them more based on this month’s prices.

Tyler Berens, owner of Berens Market in Milbank, said frozen turkey prices per pound were up about 50 cents from a year ago.

“For fresh produce…the price has gone up again,” said Tyler Thuringer, co-owner of the County Fair Food Store in Watertown.

The October 28 USDA price report for turkeys showed a price range in the Midwest for frozen turkeys of 87 cents to 99 cents per pound. Prices were different in other parts of the country, including $1.99 a pound for frozen toms and hens in the northeast.

Hannah Halldorson, communications director for the Minnesota Turkey Growers Association, said she’s heard several different numbers about price increases for turkeys, but said increases of 67% to 69% from last year were the constant numbers.

Although the price has gone up, Halldorson said many grocery stores will be running holiday deals or sales on turkeys this season, which can help bring the price down.

Turkeys have been lost to bird flu which has impacted the price of turkeys, but inflation is a bigger factor.

Producers face higher feed costs and other costs, Halldorson said. These increased costs influence prices.

Berens said that, like other groceries, inflation has caused turkey prices to rise. Trucking costs and even a lack of labor have impacted prices, Berens said.

In order for customers to have their Thanksgiving turkey, grocery stores must pre-order their frozen and fresh turkeys.

“We’re required to pre-book a few months in advance so the warehouse has an idea (of needs),” Thuringer said.

Typically, grocers don’t learn the price of the turkey until a month before delivery, Berens said.

The price most often considered for holiday meals is the price per pound of frozen turkey.

“In my area, there’s not so much demand for fresh (turkey),” Berens said.

Thuringer said his store sells fresh turkeys but, like Berens Market, there isn’t much demand for fresh turkeys. “We order because we need to keep it on hand,” Thuringer said.

Although birds have been lost to avian flu this year, only 2-3% of all birds raised have been affected, Halldorson.

“There will be plenty of turkey for every table,” Halldorson said.

Berens and Thuringer said that although turkey is in demand for Thanksgiving, demand has changed.

“I would say…it went down a bit,” Berens said. Price increases in recent years have helped depress demand, he said.

Price is a demand factor, as are changing demographics.

“Traditions change and family dynamics change,” Thuringer said.

This has led to a slight decrease in demand for turkeys, but it has also led to a shift in what consumers want.

Halldorson said consumers often want smaller birds during COVID-19 because gatherings are smaller.

The most popular turkey in his store is a 12- to 14-pound turkey, Thuringer said. “We have people getting bigger,” he said. Others want a smaller turkey of 10 to 12 pounds.

“We mainly look at 10 to 12 pound turkeys,” Berens said.

Minnesota growers have adapted to the demand for smaller birds, Halldorson said. Breeders are also producing birds for an international market in which there is a demand for larger birds and even in the United States there is a demand for larger turkeys, she said.

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