Buying a turkey? Butcher, farmer speak on high demand, higher prices

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PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Following reports around the country of a potential turkey shortage this Thanksgiving, one local butcher echoed concerns of low supply and high demand.

While a spokesperson with Fred Meyer said they planned ahead and are not experiencing a shortage, Nicky USA, a Portland-based wholesale butcher, said they just received 2,000 turkeys in an order today — and all but 40 are reserved.

“Getting all these turkeys out in a normal year is a feat in itself and then you add all the supply chain issues and trucking,” said Geoff Latham, founder and president of Nicky USA. “Trucking costs twice as much — at least 100% more — than it did a year ago, but we’ve been fortunate. We know that thanksgiving is a very important day for people and we can’t screw that up.”

Latham said turkey prices are slightly higher, but not as much as other meats right now.

“Our turkeys, the costs are up,” he said. “I don’t think it’s that much compared to other proteins we’re seeing right now, but I will say the parts — breasts and legs — are at an all-time high right now. A lot of that has to do with labor in the packing plant.”

As of Nov. 5, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Turkey Market News Report found that smaller 8- to 16-pound turkeys were selling for $1.41 per pound, up from $1.15 the year before.

The total number of turkeys for 2021 is also down — 6% lower than last year — exacerbating the issue.

Mark Anderson of Champoeg Farm said he thinks prices are up because of higher labor and feed costs. This comes at a time when his farm is seeing about seven times more orders for turkeys than they did just a few years ago, he said.

Prices aside, Latham said he’s happy about the thought of families returning around the dinner table for the holidays.

“By the orders that are coming in, you got to know there’s going to be a lot more family get-togethers this year than we’ve been able to have for a little while it seems,” he said. “I’m happy for so many people to get together and feel safe this year. makes me happy to know there will be so many of our turkeys on dining room tables and enjoying it with family for what seemed like a long 18 months.”

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