Agriculture expert says turkey shortage is unlikely, but higher prices are to be expected


(AP Photo/Larry Crowe, File)

INDIANAPOLIS — As Hoosiers are preparing for issues buying Christmas gifts for the holidays, experts say that they thankfully won’t need to worry about issues in regards to finding a turkey. The only thing they would notice, if at all, is an increase in the price of turkey.

Jayson Lusk, the head of Purdue University’s Agricultural Economics Department, researches consumer food demand, food policy issues and consumer food-buying behavior. He said that prices for turkeys are looking to be about 12 percent higher this year than they were the year preceding. This is due to feed prices increasing, labor shortages, increased wages and COVID restrictions, affecting all meat products.

“There’s several factors going on,” Lusk said. “There’s just lots of extra costs in the system that have to go somewhere, and that somewhere is the prices we pay as consumers.”

Indiana is the 4th largest turkey-producing state in the country, producing about 20 million turkeys a year, according to Lusk. Despite the increase in meat prices, there isn’t any expectation of a turkey shortage, and the prices are likely to settle out.

“There’s an old saying that the cure for high prices is high prices,” Lusk said. “When there are high prices, that incentivizes people to produce more, to capture the advantage of those higher prices. It incentivizes people to be more efficient and adopt new production practices [and] new methods that can bring down the cost of production, so I think the high prices will incentivize more investment and more entry into this space. In the future, we can expect some moderation, but it won’t happen overnight, it takes time for that to happen.”

Lusk also did mention that prices tend to lower in November relative to October due to anticipation for the holidays, so there is a chance prices could decrease for holiday sales and other similar deals.

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