A recent Washington Post article communicated the difficulties and uncertainties being faced by the country's turkey producers, processors, and retailers in the face of COVID-19. Like almost every other holiday item consumers purchase, the planning that goes into them begins long ahead of the season.

Without an accurate crystal ball prediction of where the pandemic would be at this stage, the turkey industry, like many others, rolled the dice with hope and now are working to find their way through the looming crisis.

The main problem? Travel difficulties and social distancing will involve many people staying put, smaller Thanksgiving, and possibly Christmas, gatherings. The fallout? Many first-time chefs will be looking for smaller turkeys and in many cases, no turkey at all.

Our deadly pandemic is interrupting "50 years of steadily increasing turkey consumption, threatening to change holiday traditions forever."

Turkey consumption has doubled since 1970, when Americans ate 8 pounds per capita. In 2019, domestic consumption of turkey reached 5.3 billion pounds, 16 pounds per person, according to the USDA. Turkey production was valued at $4.3 billion in 2019."

Butterball says they are bracing for their Turkey Talk-Line to be swamped by nervous first-time cooks and another major grocery store chain says consumers are looking to other familiar holiday protein sources, like ham, beef, pork roast, and seafood, instead of turkey.

Those who are going the turkey route are thinking smoked, or parts (breasts, tenderloins, etc.), or just smaller. This occurrence could completely devastate fresh turkey producers across the country.

The other market trend that has seen an increase this year is the non-meat or plant-based protein alternative. The Tofurky company has seen a big growth in holiday orders from their retailers already.

I guess in very simple and disastrous terms, this pandemic isn't for the birds.

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