Saying it’s a turkey ‘shortage’ isn’t accurate, but supplies may soon run short

DES MOINES — With a little over a month until Thanksgiving, there are reports of a looming turkey shortage, but the executive director of the Iowa Turkey Federation says that is -not- accurate.

Gretta Irwin says there is an “ample supply” of turkeys, however, there are other issues which could leave your feathers ruffled if you’re hoping to have a roast turkey as your centerpiece on November 25th. “There’s definitely challenges in finding enough employees right now through the entire food chain,” Irwin says. “The turkey industry is definitely a part of that discussion and we have some labor shortages along our supply chain that need to be addressed.”

Irwin says Iowa turkey producers will be raising a number of birds this year that is comparable to previous years, but due to continued troubles with transportation and supply management, your nearest supermarket may soon be running lower than usual.  “There are challenges with specific sizes or types of turkeys,” Irwin says. “If you want a fresh turkey, let’s say, or a 12-pound turkey or a 28-pound turkey, I would start having conversations now with your grocer to talk about ordering and making sure that you have a specific product available.”

Many Iowans are already making Thanksgiving plans and know roughly how many people will be around the table and thus, how big a turkey they’ll need. “You’ll start seeing turkeys available in all your grocers now and if there’s a certain size that you’re wanting, I would go out and purchase that turkey now and put that in your freezer,” Irwin says. “It just helps you to plan ahead and takes some stress off of planning for your holiday get together.”

Irwin says Iowa turkey farmers should raise about 12-million birds this year, which will rank the state seventh in the U-S in turkey production, while Iowa is fifth in turkey processing.