Turkey Day troubles? Smaller birds, popular Thanksgiving sides could be harder to find in 2021

GARNER, N.C. -- Consumers may have to trim their list of trimmings for their highly anticipated Thanksgiving meal this year.

Top turkey seller Butterball said it doesn't expect an overall gobbler shortage, but that those in search of a smaller size bird could have a hard time.

"Typically a 10 to 12 pound [turkey] up to 14 pounds is going to be more difficult. Anything over 16 pounds -- they'll certainly be more readily available," Butterball CEO Jay Jandrain told "Good Morning America" on Friday.

"We recommend that if you're looking for a smaller bird you get out early. We are already seeing some pretty brisk sales at the retail level, particularly with regard to the smaller turkeys," he continued. "Really it's brought about because of the challenges we've all experienced with COVID and the labor shortages that we've had."

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Butterball CEO Jay Jandrain discusses potential shortages of some Thanksgiving turkeys this holiday season.



Jandrain explained that without as many people in the facilities to process their turkeys, Butterball birds "were at the farms longer than they normally would have been and grew larger, so that's really the reason we're seeing larger birds this year."

It's not just the main dish that could potentially run afoul this season, as other companies warn of potential shortages.

For cranberry sides, Ocean Spray told ABC News that it is "committed to meeting customer demand" but has "experienced a variety of supply chain challenge," like aluminum can shortages, transportation and other factors.

According to The Wall Street Journal, some supermarkets began placing orders in February to meet November demand. But even so, market research firm IRI said some staples may be harder to come by -- and if you can find them, it could cost more to feed your guests. According to the American Farm Bureau Association, food prices are up 3.7% this year.

Krishnakumar Davey, president of client engagement at IRI, told "GMA" that products such as refrigerated pies, bakery pies and pre-made liquid gravy "are a little less than ideal in terms of in-stock positions."

"Many of the Thanksgiving items are also running around 5 to 10% higher than what they got last year," Davey said.

Retailers are reiterating the same advice they have all echoed previously and often -- shop early.

But Jandrain also added one helpful point about the star protein.

"Turkey is the most economical part of the meal, quite frankly. On average it's around a dollar a pound. It's hard to find a protein a dollar a pound at your store, so it's still an incredible value," he said. "And the good news -- if you have a larger turkey, you have more leftovers. And who doesn't love leftovers the next day?"
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