Butterball, the company responsible for 20% of the turkeys available in the United States, has confirmed in an email to Quartz that there is a nationwide shortage of fresh turkeys 16 pounds and bigger. “We experienced a decline in weight gains on some of our farms causing a limited availability of large, fresh turkeys,” says Butterball.
The decline in production has led Butterball to cut 50% of their large turkey orders for this holiday season. According to Quartz, the average household buys a 16-pound turkey for Thanksgiving, which feeds about six adults and six children.
Butterball is not revealing why their turkeys aren’t gaining weight. It’s possible that they don’t yet know. “While we are continuing to evaluate all potential causes, we are working to remedy the issue,” says the company.
But don’t start panicking just yet. The shortage only applies to Butterball’s fresh turkeys, not their frozen line. Which makes us wonder: when were those turkeys frozen?
Let’s hope the turkey industry picks up for next year. We need roast turkey, and fried turkey, and sandwiches made with leftover turkey, and turkey gravy, and turkey donuts.