Thanksgiving in the pandemic drives turkey salesNovember 12, 2020
Consumers in ‘pretty good shape’ ahead of holiday shopping season: National Retail Federation CEO
National Retail Federation President and CEO Matthew Shay says he expects a relatively good holiday shopping season for retailers despite the coronavirus outbreak.
The pandemic is forcing millions of Americans to scale back their Thanksgiving plans against the backdrop of travel restrictions and advisories on large gatherings.
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As a result, major grocery chains and turkey farmers are left to grapple with what could be a demand for more birds.
According to data from Kroger, the nation’s largest grocery store chain, 43% of shoppers plan to celebrate Thanksgiving at home with those in their immediate household.
“We know many families are thinking about the holidays differently this year, and we’re preparing our selection of fresh offerings to meet those needs,” a Kroger spokesperson told FOX Business.
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Kroger anticipates an increase in demand for other proteins like ham, beef, pork roast and seafood “as first-time holiday cooks are presented with the opportunity to create new meal traditions.”
Kroger’s family of stores will also offer plant-based meats for the growing demand for vegan, vegetarian and flexitarian options. These items include meatless roasts.
Overall, turkey sales at retail have been up this year, according to the National Turkey Federation. The industry trade group expects demand and sales to remain strong throughout the holiday season. Shifts to more plan-oriented consumer shopping habits resulting from the pandemic also mean that Thanksgiving shopping is likely to take palace a little earlier this year.
A recent survey by Butterball, one of the largest producers of turkey products in the US, finds that 87% of consumers are committed to celebrating Thanksgiving. Nearly nine in ten adults who typically celebrate Thanksgiving say they’ll make the Thanksgiving meal happen even under pandemic circumstances.
Butterball anticipates that there will be more but smaller gatherings. This year, 30% of people say they will host only immediate family this year, up more than 18% of people who would typically do so. The growth in celebrations also means that there will be more first-time hosts. At the same time, 17% of people report that staying at home has allowed them to fine-tune their domestic skills and feel more confident to cook a meal this Thanksgiving.
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Nevertheless, Butterball predicts that the demand for turkeys will be the same as usual, if not larger. Among those who will be serving a turkey this year, three-quarters plan to serve the same size turkey or larger than last year.
On the contrary, Koch’s Turkey Farm is doubling down on smaller-sized turkeys for the holiday, although it will still produce a full range of sizes.
“We are anticipating an increase in units, with more consumers shopping for smaller birds,” President of Koch’s Turkey Farm, Brian Stein told FOX Business. “We started to allocate more than usual numbers to smaller sizes in preparation for this holiday. We are keeping with production across all of our customary size ranges, with more emphasis on smaller sizes, as we do not have any solid data on the numbers related to a COVID holiday with turkey being center of plate.”
The Pennsylvania-based group sells around 400,000 turkeys on average each Thanksgiving with 1.2 million in annual sales.
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Jaindl Farms, a family-owned turkey operation, has grown about 50,0000 more turkeys this year in preparation for Thanksgiving. The business typically spawns around 750,000 to 775,000 turkeys each year, including the two dressed turkeys sent to the White House each year, a 58-year long company tradition.
This year, Jaindl Farms is preparing for spiked interest with smaller birds, accounting for a larger number yet smaller family gatherings.
“Even though Thanksgiving has evolved over the years, with more families going to restaurants or country clubs to consume their meal, we think that a lot of that will be gone by the wayside this year,” Founder of Jaindl Farms, David Jaindl, told FOX Business. “Those individuals are probably eating at home, which is where the increased sales volumes are coming from.”
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