Thanksgiving turkeys expected to be smaller this year

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Holiday turkey

Roast turkey (Credit: PATRICK PLEUL/DPA/AFP via Getty Images)

With Thanksgiving approaching, many people are considering fewer place settings at the holiday table amid the continuing coronavirus pandemic.

With smaller gatherings expected, the presentation of the Thanksgiving bird — traditionally the centerpiece of the holiday table — could turn out to be a less grand affair than in years past. Food industry experts expect people to buy smaller turkeys or even parts such as whole breasts or drumsticks.

Citing various surveys by industry leaders such as Butterball, Hormel Foods and others, The New York Times reported that a large number of people plan to host fewer people or only immediate family this year.

And a survey by market research firm Numerator showed that nearly 70 percent of Americans are changing their usual Thanksgiving plans, prompting many grocery chains to increase orders for smaller turkeys.

“The buying arms of the major retailers and distributors are definitely trying to slant their purchases toward smaller turkeys,” Russ Whitman, senior vice president at Urner Barry, a commodity market research firm, told CNN.

Typically, people determine the size of bird to buy by allowing at least 1 pound of uncooked turkey per person.

CNN reported that farmers have been adjusting in anticipation of a higher demand for smaller turkeys by harvesting them earlier.

According to the National Turkey Federation, about 40 million turkeys are consumed around Thanksgiving each year. The U.S. is the world’s largest turkey producer and largest exporter of turkey products, the group said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said that opting for a “small dinner with only people who live in your household” poses the lowest risk of spreading the coronavirus.

“Thanksgiving is a time when many families travel long distances to celebrate together,” the CDC said. “Travel increases the chance of getting and spreading the virus that causes COVID-19. Staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others.”

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