Turkey talk: how the pandemic might affect your Christmas dinner
Maritimers who haven’t purchased a holiday turkey yet might want to sooner rather than later.
Shortages are not expected this year, but with the pandemic, labour shortages, and high demand, choices might be limited if shoppers wait too long.
Industry experts say consumers need to practice patience when shopping for a turkey this season.
“I went to the grocery store myself this weekend, I couldn’t find one,” says Dalhousie Food Distribution & Policy Professor Sylvain Charlebois. “It doesn’t mean that we’re running short. It’s just because consumer demand is a bit erratic these days. People react to news, they react to variants.”
Charlebois says plan ahead.
The cost of a turkey is expected to be 13 to 14 per cent higher this year and smaller birds will likely be easier to find than bigger ones, because the industry planned for small gatherings.
“So if you go to the store and there are no turkeys, take that with a grain of salt, go back a few days later, you may actually find some birds,” Charlebois adds.
Navigating through the pandemic has been daunting for turkey farmers for several reasons.
There are labour challenges this year, and farmers need to predict what demand will look like months in advance.
“I’ll give you an example, I just came back from a meeting out west, and we’re setting what needs to be grown for next year 2022, and 2023,” explains Steven Eadie, director of the Turkey Farmers of Nova Scotia. “We’re finding there’s challenges out there already, for next year – we don’t know, I hate to say it, but we don’t know if this new variant will affect us, so there’s still lots of uncertainty out there.”
At Getaway Farmers & Butchers in Halifax, consumers are able to pre-order their Christmas turkeys online.
Owner Chris De Waal encourages everyone to support the local economy this holiday season and visiting a farmer or butcher in their community.
“The good news is there’s a lot of turkey in Nova Scotia,” he says. “So the big heavy birds, they get gobbled up pretty quick, as well as speciality products like certified free range, which by the way, we have a fantastic certified free range program in Nova Scotia.”
When it comes to the Christmas dinner fixings, don’t worry, those in food distribution say consumers should be able to find everything they need to host a safe and delicious turkey dinner this year.