ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – You can’t have Thanksgiving without the star of the meal, the turkey. But this year, you might have to go without. With inflation, supply chain shortages and the avian flu; the cost of turkeys has skyrocketed – that’s if you can even find one in Abilene markets.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture, more than five million turkeys have been killed by the avian flu. Avian influenza (HPAI) is a deadly, highly contagious flu passed on by migrant birds.
Owner of the Shed Market, Byron Stephenson, said the restaurant has been out of turkey for about a month.
“We use a raw, boneless, skinless turkey breast,” explained Stephenson. “We thought [turkey] would be pretty easy to come by, but from what our suppliers are telling us, the avian flu has wiped out a big portion of those turkey flocks.”
Stephenson said he’s been a restaurant owner since 2018. He opened the Shed Market on Buffalo Gap in June, with his wife Stacie. Adding that in, all the years he has been a business owner, he said he has never seen high prices like this for food and supplies.
Adapting to the shortage, The Shed will be offering alternatives to turkey in its Thanksgiving menu.
“We’re going to push more pork. We’re doing a stuffed [pork] loin with stuffing; it’s wrapped up and smoked. I think everybody is going to love it, we had a lot of orders for those already,” Stephenson offered. “Of course, brisket, prime rib, things like that – a lot of people traditionally did. We’re still going to do a lot of those, just not going to have that turkey.”
The Avian Flu has also made its way to egg-laying hens, increasing the costs of ingredients for baked goods.
Owner of Life of Pie, Leslie Bivens, said her bakery is cutting off the deadline for Thanksgiving pies this year, on November 8 to ensure enough supplies are ordered to fulfill requests on time.
Also in response to the increase in cost of supplies, Life of Pie will be increasing the price of a whole pie from $24 to $26, to keep up with the costs of dairy products.
“Every time that we get our delivery on Mondays, and I look at the cost of eggs, I have little heart palpitations,” Bivens illustrated. “About this time last year, we were paying about $25 for 15 dozen eggs. When we got them this past Monday, it was right at $80.”
Bivens said she encourages people, regardless of if they buy or make their own pies, to plan ahead and ensure their Thanksgiving plate is full of its key essentials this year.
“I would say, ‘get some butter now, freeze it now. Go ahead and stock up on any sugar, anything you will need for your baked goods,'” advised Bivens.
Experts have been advising this year, all should plan ahead and be prepared to find alternatives for Holiday dishes. If you usually buy your thanksgiving dinner, be sure to stay alert about deadlines for orders.