COLLEGE STATION, TEXAS – Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Service recently found that wholesale turkey prices are up and production is down during the COVID-19 pandemic as the holiday season approaches.

David Anderson, PhD, AgriLife Extension economist explained that the turkey market is looking atypical compared to year-over-year numbers.

“The turkey industry has struggled with profitability and some of the trends when it comes to consumer choices around the holidays and the consumer trends when it comes to deli meat,” Anderson said. “You have producers trying to gauge demand and what the market will be, and that’s been difficult the last few years.”

In his research, Anderson found that turkey production is down 7.7% in October compared to the same period in 2019. The data also showed that overall production is down 2.7% during 2020 compared to last year. Turkey in cold storage also showed a decline of 11.5% in September, according to the report.

Anderson explained that this type of supply has led to increases in prices. He stated that wholesale tom turkeys, which can range from 16 lbs to 24 lbs, and hen turkeys, which are between 8 lbs and 16 lbs, were priced 19% higher compared to 2019 due to the supply.

The higher turkey prices are the exact opposite of last year when it was 20% lower than the market's five-year average. With this news, Anderson said it remains to be seen if retailers will lure consumers with sale prices on turkeys during the holidays.