Poultry Producers Predict a Thanksgiving Turkey Shortage This Year: Here Are Some Hassle-Free Alternatives

There are vegan options, too!

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August 20, 2021


Photo by: Image Source/Cadalpe/Getty

Image Source/Cadalpe/Getty

Even though Thanksgiving is still several months away, some of the country’s top poultry producers are already predicting that there will be a shortage of turkeys this holiday season. As with a bevy of other food shortages we’ve experienced in recent months, this one is tied to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

According to a broker for Shady Brook Farms, one of the country’s biggest and most prolific turkey suppliers, the shortage stems from ongoing production issues that have been exacerbated by the pandemic. Nearly two years later, the poultry industry is still grappling with reduced labor and increased costs, while simultaneously dealing with the fact that demand for turkeys has decreased over time. To add insult to injury, the cost of corn, which is typically fed to turkeys, has risen.

This year’s shortage is expected to impact the availability of fresh turkeys (not frozen) as well as those that weigh less than 16 pounds. A spokesman for Cargill, which owns Shady Brook Farms, addressed the shortage, explaining that it is the result of “continuing to manage tight labor markets while working to keep employees safe from the impacts of COVID-19 in the communities where they operate.”

And if poultry producers like Shady Brook Farms have fewer turkeys to sell, that means you can expect it to be more difficult to track down a fresh bird at your local supermarket this holiday season.

With the looming turkey shortage in mind, we’ve compiled a list of brands that ship equally mouthwatering meats, plus plant-based alternatives, so you can still enjoy a festive main, even if it isn’t turkey.

Butcher Girls

Butcher Girls is a virtual butcher shop that sells curated boxes of local, sustainable and humanely sourced meat and fish. The shop provides hand-delivery of boxes in the NY-metro area but offers nationwide shipping as well. Some of the company’s tasty choices include an omakase box, which comes with one pound of 85/15 grass-fed ground beef in addition to a curated selection of beef, pork and lamb, as well as a cook-out box with a ribeye, hand formed burger patties, a whole chicken, pork butt, bratwurst, and compound butter with marrow.


Rastelli’s, the same brand that brought us those inventive, flat round hot dogs also sells an array of meat that’ll easily elevate your holiday meal. Choices include grass-fed filet mignon, hot Italian sausage, Faroe Island salmon, turkey craft burgers or ground turkey if you’re not quite ready to let go of tradition, and vegan hot dogs for those who don’t eat meat.


Moinks delivers grass-fed and grass-finished beef and lamb, pastured pork and chicken and wild-caught salmon directly to your door. Each box is customizable and contains several different meats.

Myrtle Greens

Plant-based eaters might not be impacted by the turkey shortage, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be able to enjoy their own turkey of sorts. Myrtle Greens sells whole vegan turkeys made of soy protein. These meat-free birds also come with vegan gravy and vegan stuffing, because we all know the sides are the real Thanksgiving stars.

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