Axios quoted US Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, who warned in a call with reporters that avian influenza or bird flu continues to wreak havoc on the poultry industry and could result in a massive shortage of big birds at supermarkets ahead of Thanksgiving.
Vilsack said finding 20-pound turkeys at supermarkets in some regions across the country could be very challenging.
"Some of the turkeys that are being raised right now for Thanksgiving may not have the full amount of time to get to 20 pounds," he said, while addressing the Biden administration's concerns on elevated food inflation.
Vilsack said supermarkets should be well stocked with turkeys but finding a traditional-size one (15-20 pounds) in the next two weeks will be difficult: "It's going to be there, maybe smaller, but it'll be there."
The primary reason behind tightening supplies of big birds is the surge in avian influenza at commercial farms this year has led to the culling of more than eight million turkeys. In total, including chickens and turkeys, and other birds, 47.7 million birds have been killed across the country this year.
Tighter supplies mean consumers can expect to pay $1.47 per pound this holiday season compared with $1.15 last year. On Thursday morning, Walmart released a statement that it would roll back the prices of turkeys to help consumers this holiday season amid the worst inflation in decades.
On the retailer's website, turkey prices have been halved. But not all consumers shop at Walmart (or maybe they soon will) and will pay the highest cost ever for Thanksgiving items.