Last updated: Tough turkey: Supply chain, inflation make for challenging holiday

Tough turkey: Supply chain, inflation make for challenging holiday


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For most families, the centerpiece of Thanksgiving dinner is the turkey, with the U.S. National Turkey Federation estimating that over 88% of Americans will eat turkey on the holiday.

In fact, Thanksgiving represents roughly a fifth of total turkey consumption of the entire year. Getting the estimated 46 million turkeys ready by Nov. 24 is a planning and logistical nightmare as fresh turkeys only have a 21-day shelf life.

This is made a little simpler in that 90% of turkeys consumed are frozen, which brings its own challenges of storage and freezer capacity.

Supply chain issues and sky-rocketing inflation are putting the squeeze on this year’s Thanksgiving celebration.

Where’s the turkey?

Reports indicate that there’s a potential turkey shortage (due to an avian flu outbreak) and rising costs (due to inflation) this year, which will mean that demand will far exceed supply, and prices will rise.

According to estimates, Avian flu has killed more than 45 million birds in 2022 which could result in 20% fewer turkeys this holiday season.

The American Farm Bureau Federation  has predicted that the average American family — if they can find a turkey in their local grocery store — can expect to pay at least 112% more this year for turkey this Thanksgiving.

Inflation drives up the Thanksgiving bill

And it’s not only turkeys that are in high demand. To complete the meals, Americans will consume some 80 million pounds of cranberries and 50 million pumpkin pies.

Record inflation in 2022 means these popular side dishes will also cost more, according to the U.S. Consumer Price Index:

  • Biscuits, rolls, and muffins up 17%
  • Frozen bakery items up 18%
  • Canned fruit and vegetables up 16%
  • Sauces and gravies up 17%

Butter at a premium

Of all things, the Russian invasion of Ukraine has impacted the availability of butter this Thanksgiving, as Michel Roger from Accenture recently explained.

“The global cost for grains/feedstock has been increasing ever since the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Because of this, many herds have been reduced and the milk per cow is down in 2022 from 2021,” he said.

“Consumption is highly screwed to the holiday months, with over half the butter purchased in stores in the US occurs between Thanksgiving and the New Year, so if use stays high for baking and holiday dinners, butter will be at a premium around Thanksgiving and through Christmas and New Year,” he added.

Is the cranberry supply in a jam?

Let’s take a closer look at that can of cranberry sauce, and what it takes to provide this staple of the Thanksgiving meal.

According to a recent New York Post article, record high temperatures and resulting droughts haven’t been kind to the cranberry fields in 2022.

Cranberries grow in flood fields with the help of freshwater, but this year’s dry climate has created an inconsistent growing system that jeopardizes a bountiful harvest. This could make it hard to find the traditional holiday side dish.

At least there’s pumpkin pie

The holiday season is pumpkin season. Farmers and retailers work to balance high demand for the squash between Halloween and Thanksgiving.

Starting with pumpkin spiced food and beverages, and carving jack o’ lanterns for Halloween, pumpkin demand continues with the classic Thanksgiving dessert of pumpkin pie.

Pumpkins typically take anywhere from 90 to 120 days to fully grow after the seeds are planted. Therefore, farmers hoping for a bumper October crop would have planted their pumpkin patch in June or July.

And even though the pumpkin harvest was a little delayed due to weather conditions this year, there should be plenty of fresh and canned pumpkin.

Say it ain’t so: Supply chain snags hit breweries

Over the past few months, many U.S. breweries have struggled to find CO2 because of pandemic-related supply chain issues. And now, a carbon dioxide contamination issue in Mississippi could lead to a beer shortage in the USA this fall.

Breweries in the U.K. and New Zealand have reported similar shortages in a global beer market that is projected to grow from $768.17 billion in 2021 to $989.48 billion in 2028 at a CAGR of 3.68%.

Showing gratitude this holiday season

Despite all the looming shortages and soaring prices, I’ll be giving thanks for what I do have, and not complaining about what’s not available.

We have been through a rough couple of years, but we’ve shown resiliency as individuals, as communities, as nations and civilization in general.

For all those who celebrate, happy Thanksgiving, and to everybody, happy holidays.

Keep your supply chain connected,
reliable, and resilient –
no matter what.

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