Gobble gobbles hey! Newfoundland turkey buyers mourn poultry shortage

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With a city full of supermarkets, it’s hard to swallow the idea that St. John’s could face a turkey shortage, but that’s exactly what’s happening.

Everyone was gobbling up every turkey for weeks before Thanksgiving, said Greg Gill, vice president of marketing for Coleman’s grocery stores.

“It’s a real thing,” he said. “Families are looking for turkey, so it’s sometimes a challenge to stock up. “

Gill said this year has been a difficult one due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the rising cost of feeding turkeys.

Still, Gill said the Newfoundland-owned and operated grocer will have enough turkeys in its 13 Newfoundland stores.

“We have an adequate supply,” he said. “I think if families are looking to cook a turkey for Thanksgiving dinner, you should be fine.”

While there may have been a temporary shortage of Thanksgiving birds, store bins are expected to be in stock this week. (Jeremy Eaton / CBC)

But it’s not just Coleman’s. In an email, a spokesperson for Sobeys said the chain saw increased sales of frozen turkey last week, but that had replenished its supply to meet buyer demand.

However, the shortage is apparently a problem in Newfoundland and Labrador.

“We haven’t noticed anything like this to the same degree in any other part of the country,” said Darren Ference, vice president of Turkey Farmers of Canada.

The organization is planning nearly a year in advance to make sure there are enough turkeys to fill the shopping carts on Thanksgiving and Christmas, but noticed some lull in supply last month.

“[Our inventories] were lower on September 1, but there will be growth and fresh produce will arrive before Thanksgiving, ”Ference said.

Coleman vice president of marketing Greg Gill is confident his stores will be able to supply turkeys this week. (Jeremy Eaton / CBC)

So what sparked the turkey buying frenzy in Newfoundland? Social media sites were posting about people walking out of stores with carts full of six to eight turkeys, far more than a family could eat.

“What we don’t want is the type of panic buying that we’ve seen throughout the pandemic for other items like toilet paper,” Gill said.

All over St. John’s, turkeys could barely make it to grocery store coolers before people flocked to get their hands on them. For days, people have been seen lining up outside grocery stores before they opened.

Due to increased demand, some grocery store chains have placed limits on the number of turkeys a buyer can buy. (Jeremy Eaton / CBC)

This prompted some grocery stores to limit the number of turkeys a buyer can take home to one or two per person.

Coleman’s takes a wait-and-see approach, said Gill.

“What we’re really trying to accomplish is make sure that anyone who wants to buy a turkey for their family reunion that we have one for them.”

Read more about CBC Newfoundland and Labrador


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