Tough Turkey – Why Small & Midsize Manufactures Are Struggling with Poultry Supply Issues

Tough Turkey – Why Small & Midsize Manufactures Are Struggling with Poultry Supply Issues

From the sheer volume of turkeys that shoppers see stacked up in the freezer section at the grocery store each Thanksgiving and Christmas, you’d think acquiring high-grade turkey meat would never be a problem in the US. Yet, for some small and mid-sized businesses offering products made from turkey meat, getting a dependable supply is a huge problem with modern supply chain issues.

In 2021, headlines in the months leading up to winter holiday warned of a potential turkey shortage. According to Jessica Evans of Evans Family Farm, concerns about a turkey shortage that year resulted in a big rush. The farm sold all its turkeys prior to Thanksgiving of that year, leaving no inventory for Christmas.


That concern for shortages resulting in rushed sales is not reserved for the poultry industry alone. Nor are such food shortages a thing of the past.

According to Keith Daniels of Carl Marks Advisors in a recent interview with Parade, the US should be bracing for a number of food shortages for the remainder of 2022.

Foods expected to be in short supply throughout the rest of 2022 include:

  • Meat & Poultry
  • Dairy (milk, cheese, yogurt, cream)
  • Eggs
  • Plant-based proteins
  • Pet food
  • Bottled water
  • Pasta

    Chief among the 2022 food shortages is meat and poultry. This, of course, includes turkeys.

    The five biggest turkey processors in the US are:

    • Butterball LLC
    • Jennie-O Turkey Store Inc.
    • Cargill Turkey & Cooked Meats
    • Farbest Foods Inc.
    • Tyson Foods

    According to the Carolina Public Press article, “Are the Rumors of a Holiday Turkey Shortage True?” by Jodi Helmer, Americans consume 68 million turkeys each combined Thanksgiving and Christmas season.

    Yet, there are a litany of products made from turkey that also need access to supply. Outside of whole turkeys for the holidays, other turkey products necessitating a large supply include:

    • Turkey Bacon
    • Turkey Sausage
    • Turkey Burgers
    • Turkey Jerky


    In the June 2022 Bloomberg article, “Bird Flu Will Hit Turkey Supplies for Jennie-O This Summer,” journalist Eleanor Song details that companies like Hormel Food Corp. (parent company to turkey product seller Jennie-O) are expecting large supply gaps.

    Three chief reasons that turkey shortages are expected include:

    • Bird Flu - One of the big reasons for the expected lack of turkey supply relates to the recent bird flu outbreak that plagued U.S. farms. It is considered one of the worst avian influenza outbreaks the country has ever experienced. Over 38 million birds were destroyed as a result of the plight. The greatest impact was in turkeys and egg laying chicken hens.
    •  Labor Shortages – A big factor negatively affecting turkey supplies is labor shortages at poultry meat processing plants. The Demarva Chicken Association processed 3 million less chickens in 2021 compared to 2020, mainly because of a lack of workers. The turkey industry posts similar frustrations.
    • Feed Costs – With Russia and the Ukraine being instrumental suppliers of grain used in poultry feed, the war in Europe is definitely having ongoing effects on the cost of raising turkeys. The US farmer’s dollar doesn’t stretch as far as it used to, resulting in smaller flocks being raised.

    According to a PetKeen article by Nicole Cosgrove, “Which State Raises the Most Turkeys?”, the USDA is projecting that the total number of turkeys raised in the US in 2022 will be 214 million. That is down 4% since 2020.

    So why are turkey shortages a bigger problem for smaller companies?

    Like in most industries, supplier loyalty tends to be extended to the biggest customers first. Once Butterball, Jennie-O, and the gang have gobbled up the majority of available birds, small and mid-sized companies are left scrambling for supply.

    If companies like turkey giant Butterball exercise their preferred buyer status to buy up all the turkey supply, where will smaller companies get the meat they need to produce their products?

    This is a question currently facing scores of small and mid-sized food manufactures in need of turkey supply, and there doesn’t seem to be a good answer just yet.


    BULK is most widely known as one of the country’s premier providers of premium quality beef jerky, but we offer a lot of other healthy snack foods as well – including Turkey Jerky.

    In fact, consumers rave about the superior quality of BULK’s turkey jerky. Recent turkey jerky reviews on the BULK website include:

    • “Loved the flavor, and that it’s lean.”
    • “This is the best jerky I’ve tasted.”
    • “Of all the BULK jerky I’ve tried, this is the one I like best.”

    There’s just one problem. We are presently completely out of stock of turkey jerky.

    Rest assured, we are leaving no stone unturned as we try to acquire the premium turkey meat we need to produce the high-grade turkey jerky for which so many loyal customers are patiently waiting. We value your loyalty and will have product available as soon as possible.

    In the meantime, take a look at the other tasty treats BULK has to offer including Beef Jerky, Premium Nuts, and Delicious Dried Fruits.

    For all your healthy snack needs visit BULK at:

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