SAN DIEGO — If you're planning to gobble up a lot turkey this Thanksgiving, consider yourself warned. Prices for turkey are expected to hit record highs.
The problem isn't just inflation, but also the bird flu which will make turkeys more expensive and harder to find.
Producers said it's not unusual to lose some turkeys every year in California to the avian flu, but this year a new strain came earlier and hit them a lot harder than ever before.
“In California, we've probably lost 200,00 to 300,000 turkeys in the last two months,” said Bill Mattos, President of the California Poultry Federation.
“That's significant because we're not one of the largest turkey growing states,” Mattos said.
Mattos says if you want a fresh and natural turkey from California, don't wait until the last minute.
“Reach out to your supermarket. Find out when the birds are going to arrive so you can get there and get the bird you want because not everyone will get a California bird," Mattos said.
The bird flu has already hit 43 states, wiping out over 47 million birds. Iowa is the country's largest turkey producer and, as of last week, they've had over 13 million cases.
But the poultry industry wants to make it clear that even with the bird flu wiping out a lot of their flock, the ones sold in stores are safe to eat.
“We test all birds going to processing for bird flu and other diseases and there's nothing when they get to the processing plant, they are free of diseases for sure,” Mattos said.
He thinks there will still be enough frozen turkeys brought in from other states to save a lot of thanksgivings here, but they won't be cheap.
Caitline Jordan at Alewives Brook Farm says transportation, labor, and grain prices have hit them hard. “Unfortunately, the world we live in right now, the price of everything is going up,” Jordan said.
But before you let higher prices put you in a foul mood, Mattos says, overall, turkey is still a relatively affordable food. “I still think even though the price is probably up 50 to 70% over last year, it's still a pretty good bargain for a family cause the whole family can eat one turkey.”
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