Yes, there's a Butterball shortage; no, you do not need to panic

Tuesday, November 19, 2013 - 9:41am

If it's mid-November, there must be some sort of panic-inducing announcement about the shortage of a Thanksgiving dinner staple. In years past, pumpkin pie filling has been locus of the upset. This year, it's fresh Butterball turkeys.

Note: that's specifically fresh Butterball turkeys, and just that particular brand. There are still plenty of frozen turkeys from Butterball, as well as fresh birds from other producers available for your roasting pleasure. But the mere notion of not having enough of a T-Day dish to gobble down seems to incite freakout.

The skinny: some farmers who supply Butterball couldn't get their turkeys to plump up sufficiently, so fresh ones over 16 pounds might be in short supply.

Butterball released a statement via e-mail saying in part: "Butterball and its retail partners have ample supply of frozen whole turkeys of all sizes – small, medium or large. While there may be limited availability on some larger sizes of fresh turkeys, Butterball has shipped 100 percent of customer orders of frozen whole turkeys and products are in distribution across the country. We experienced a decline in weight gains on some of our farms causing a limited availability of large, fresh turkeys. While we are continuing to evaluate all potential causes, we are working to remedy the issue. We sincerely regret the inconvenience that some of our customers have experienced as a result of this issue."

Butterball produces around 1.3 billion pounds of turkey meat a year, and 20% of the United States' turkeys.

Breathing a little easier? Good. You've got ten days until holiday madness descends. Make 'em count.

Thanksgiving help:

Turkey tips you wish you'd known sooner

Buy right and don't waste food

Thanksgiving dinner for 8 for $70

Stocking up for the big day

Avoid these dreaded dishes

5 Reasons to buy a heritage bird

Get your prep work out of the way

Defrost that bird!

Safe time and temperature for turkey

Philippe Cousteau's perfect turkey and gravy (and an ethical dilemma)

5 Turkey don'ts

Thaw that bird!

Out of time? Spatchcock that turkey!

Stress-free brining

Deep-fried indoor turkey – for science

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