‘Our stores have plenty of turkeys’ despite nationwide shortage

Despite the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) prediction of a shortage of frozen turkeys this Thanksgiving, local grocers are assured there will be plenty to gobble in Seattle.

Earlier this fall, the USDA compared the number of frozen turkeys in cold storage in 2021 to the number in 2020 and the average from 2018-2020. The research found a 24% decline in frozen whole turkeys and turkey parts as of August 2021 — the lowest the number had been in three years.

While 428.1 million pounds of turkey meat was found to be in cold storage throughout the country in August, this was 19% less than in August of 2020 and about 7 million pounds less than at the end of July 2021.

USDA Economic Research Service using data from USDA, National Agriculture Statistic Service.


The sharp decline can be blamed on the slowing of turkey production. satisfy costs have risen over the last few years, putting a financial burden on turkey farms, and resulting in fewer turkeys.

Turkey chick population was also measured in August, as August is the latest a chick can be born and raised to be fully grown by Thanksgiving. In August 2021, chick populations were down about 4% from the three-year average.

Despite the USDA’s examination, local grocery stores are hopeful their turkey availability won’t be impacted in the Seattle area.

In an email to the SeattlePI, a representative for Fred Meyer said, “Our merchandising team put in early purchases for the holiday this year, and as a consequence we have plenty of stock on both fresh and frozen turkeys.”

In a separate email, a representative for QFC shared similar confidence in the chain’s turkey supply saying, “We keep focused on providing a complete, fresh and friendly experience for our customers, and while that has required a bit of nimbleness and current proactiveness as the supply chain continues to evolve, we feel as if we are well positioned.” The representative additional, “At last check, our QFC stores have plenty of turkeys.”

The SeattlePI reached out to a representative for the Safeway brand, but at time of publication had not heard back.

A shopper walks past turkeys displayed for sale in a grocery store ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday on November 11, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Mario Tama/Getty Images

To avoid a frenzy in the days leading up the Thanksgiving, it’s well advised to order a turkey ahead of time. Metropolitan Market is currently taking reservations for both turkeys and hams, cooked and uncooked. The local chain is also offering complete precooked meals, including pies. 

PCC Markets are also taking reservations for turkeys, beef rib roasts and ham. While PCC doesn’t offer as many choices as Metropolitan Market, they do offer preorders for some popular Thanksgiving side dish bundles.

If avoiding cooking altogether is more your speed, these nine Seattle-area restaurants are offering a takeout Thanksgiving dinner. Preorders are open now for all locations.

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