Chickening Out? Butterball CEO Denies Americans Will Switch From Turkey To Other Thanksgiving Fare Because Of Inflation

Chickening Out? Butterball CEO Denies Americans Will Switch From Turkey To Other Thanksgiving Fare Because Of Inflation

As inflation comes home to roost for many American families preparing to celebrate Thanksgiving, leadership at one of the largest poultry producers in the nation is denying that households will shift from turkey to other alternatives.

Butterball CEO Jay Jandrain remarked during an interview with Fox Business that his company would be able to supply Americans with sufficient amounts of turkey and affirmed that distributors had reported solid interest in the holiday bird. “We expect that everyone who wants a turkey will get one this year,” he said. “We’ve shipped, actually, more product this year than we did last year. And so far, what we’re hearing from the retailers is that pull-through is good, there are no shortages and everybody should be able to get just exactly what they’re looking for.”

Concerns that Americans may be peckish on Thanksgiving emerge as the cost of the holiday meal increases precipitously. According to an analysis from the American Farm Bureau Association, the overall cost of a typical Thanksgiving dinner has risen 20% since last year. The price of a 16-pound turkey has risen from $23.99 to $28.96, marking a 21% increase as an outbreak of the avian flu impacts flocks across the country, while the costs for cubed stuffing mix and one dozen dinner rolls have surged 69% and 22%, respectively.

One report from The New York Post revealed that some consumers would be preparing chicken for their relatives as turkey prices remain particularly high. Jandrain, however, cited a survey conducted by his company finding that 85% of respondents will still be gobbling turkeys.

“I’ve not seen any data at all around the chicken substitution for turkey,” Jandrain said. “So we certainly aren’t expecting a change there. And we know that we’re shipping a lot of turkeys this year, more so than last year, actually, and some survey work that we’ve done here in stores recently shows very few of our turkeys left. So it looks like sell-through is good.”

The executive added that producers are bearing most of the burden from the higher prices. “The way that our operation is set up, we provide the feed to our farmers who grow turkeys for us. So we know all too well how expensive that is, and what the impact of that is into the cost of the product,” he continued.

Rising price levels may provide good news to Americans who would prefer to wing it on Thanksgiving rather than prepare a meal at home. According to a report from Wells Fargo, prices for food at home have increased at a faster pace than prices at restaurants, implying that leaving the henhouse may be more affordable this year on a relative basis.

Economic phenomena such as labor shortages and supply chain bottlenecks have contributed to overall inflation. Jandrain confirmed that transportation and warehousing expenses have risen this year and are not “going away” anytime soon. “We’ve got a number of very smart people in our group working to try to minimize the impact of that, on how we manage our freight and our distribution,” he explained. “They’re doing a lot to work with our customers to make sure that we can minimize that and really just take costs out of the supply chain altogether.”

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