Will There Be a Turkey Shortage This Year? Here’s the Verdict

Last year turkey prices were way, way up. Here's why 2023 will be different.

For lots of people who celebrate Thanksgiving, the highlight of the holiday is the turkey. Whether you cook your turkey yourself or order a turkey from a pro, it sets the tone for your entire Thanksgiving menu. But there’s always a chance you’ll have to go without turkey or pay a higher price if a turkey shortage strikes, like what happened in 2022.

Last year, the price of most uncooked poultry jumped about 17%, according to the Consumer Price Index (CPI). For turkey specifically, the shortage caused a particularly steep increase, raising the price per pound of a whole frozen turkey from $1.15 to $1.46, according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

So, when it comes to turkey supply this year, what can we expect? Will it be another year of pricey turkeys and a noticeable shortage? To find out, we connected with the National Turkey Federation (NTF), a nonprofit that represents the turkey industry. The findings are good news for your Thanksgiving feast!

Is there a turkey shortage this year?

Last year, high rates of the avian flu—which was possibly the worst in history, according to The Washington Post—combined with inflation led to a turkey shortage. For 2023, shoppers can expect a different experience, according to NTF president Joel Brandenberger. “There will be a plentiful supply of turkeys in supermarkets and most stores,” he says.

That’s music to our ears! You’ll be able to find a turkey to enjoy with your Thanksgiving side dishes.

Although there are occasional cases of avian flu, Brandenberger says, turkey losses are significantly lower than in 2022. Unlike last year, avian flu shouldn’t impact turkey availability.

The NTF also estimates that there will even be discounts on frozen turkeys. In other words, despite other food prices rising, “economic factors that apply to most food items throughout the year are less of a factor in turkey pricing.” It’s not out of the question to expect a good price on the mouthwatering turkey for this year’s holiday meal.

When should I buy a Thanksgiving turkey?

When it comes to buying your turkey, Brandenberger has a few suggestions. Frozen turkeys are a safe bet that can significantly cut costs. Turkeys can last up to a year in the freezer without losing quality. Just make sure to allow at least 24 hours of thawing in the fridge for every 4-5 pounds of bird, Brandenberger says. Figuring out how to defrost a turkey in advance means your Thanksgiving dinner will go without a hitch. But in case of emergency, here’s the best way to cook a frozen turkey.

Consumers who want a specific size or type of turkey should contact their store’s meat manager by early November, Brandenberger advises. That way, a preference is secured in time for Turkey Day.

Luckily, when it comes to buying a turkey this year, there will be plenty to go around!

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Sarra Sedghi
Sarra Sedghi is a Birmingham-based writer and editor specializing in food, travel, and history. Her work has appeared in Allrecipes, Atlas Obscura, Eater, MyRecipes, Polygon, and Tasting Table. She excels at narrative writing, and received her MFA in Narrative Nonfiction from the University of Georgia in 2017.