Far fewer Iowans are expected to travel for Thanksgiving this year due to the pandemic which will likely mean smaller gatherings around dinner tables — and a potential drop in sales for Iowa turkey producers.
Gretta Irwin, executive director of the Iowa Turkey Federation, says many consumers will still be gobbling up turkey, just in different ways.
“This year, we anticipate we’ll have ample supply of turkeys in all variety of sizes, just like we normally do,” Irwin says. “If a group of friends and family are getting together and it’s a smaller group, they can still cook the large turkey and have lots of great leftovers, or they could choose turkey breast options or turkey tenderloins.”
The global COVID-19 outbreak forced the cut-back of some turkey production in the Midwest earlier this year and some producers decided to stop raising turkeys for at least six months.
“Some farmers here in Iowa did not place turkeys and will not be processing turkeys come the first of the year,” Irwin says. “Those turkeys never would have been Thanksgiving turkeys. Those would have been turkeys that all would have been further processed so that does not have an impact on the holiday market this year.”
The pandemic kept many people home from work and school for several months this year, which meant they were also eating out less frequently. That, too, hit the turkey industry.
“Mostly this summer when a lot of the quick service restaurants stopped serving turkey, places where you buy deli sandwiches and schools, those types of settings,” Irwin says. “That really impacted our ability to keep moving all of our products, specifically, the deli meats, the tenderloins, the breast meat.”
Iowa ranks 7th in U.S. turkey production, with about 12-million birds raised in the state every year.
By Jerry Oster, WNAX, Yankton