At Dartmouth’s Chaters Meat Market, the owner has noticed a trend when it comes to ordering turkeys.
“If I order 100 cases, I’m lucky if they give me 40 or 50 cases,” said George Chater, who added that he deals with multiple vendors and has heard various reasons. “Wait a minute, they’re running out of manpower to kill turkeys. Some of them don’t have enough. It’s hard to say.”
Turkey Farmers Nova Scotia President Steven Eadie would prefer not to view the situation as a shortage. However, he said there are pressure points affecting the industry.
“It’s just a challenge compared to finding what you want, where you want it and when you want it,” said Eadie, who also pointed out that COVID-19 and restrictions over the past year and a half are contributing factors. “It takes up to nine months to plan what we need for the turkey. So basically it’s December and we had to look into the spring to plan what’s next for Christmas.”
Eadie said the size of turkeys available is of greater concern compared to the overall supply.
“What we grow here in Nova Scotia is primarily a six kilogram bird which, when it arrives at the store, weighs about 10 or 11 pounds.
Buyers who want bigger birds will have to wait longer, as larger turkeys are shipped out of the province, resulting in delivery delays and impacting prices.
A customer has a possible solution.
“We normally ate duck. It’s kind of our tradition,” said Sandy Gribbin.
Edie said consumers might need to recalibrate their Christmas dinner strategies.
“Don’t think of the whole turkey,” Eadie said. “You can buy it in different forms, like a roast turkey or pieces of turkey.”
Eadie also wants people to buy more turkeys year round to help develop the industry, which would improve turkey stocks in the future.