LIVERPOOL, N.Y. (NCC News) — Residents of Onondaga County hoping to buy a fresh turkey for Thanksgiving will may be greeted by an unfortunate surprise: empty shelves.
Drew Deangelo, the owner of Mazzye’s Meats, a butcher shop in Liverpool, said the county is experiencing a turkey supply shortage. Mazzye’s Meats has already sold 170 turkeys and they just ordered their final 20 fresh turkeys — two of which have already been reserved.
Deangelo said the shop’s turkey sales vary from year to year, but he has seen a noticeable increase in demand this year.
“It varies from year to year, depending on the year — like last year was a little different,” Deangelo said. “But this year it seems like there’s a lot of people that are having a lot bigger parties than normal.”
Deangelo also said, on top of this demand, he has been told that the turkey industry has seen labor shortages across every step of the supply chain — from butchers to delivery drivers.
Sue Mulholland, an employee at Mazzye’s Meats, said in a normal year the shop would be able to order turkeys for customers at the last minute, if needed. This year has been different, though.
“This year we seem to be sold out,” Mulholland said. “Normally, we could get turkeys before — if we had to call at the very, very last minute we could. They would be able to send us a turkey here and there, but no, this year there’s no more turkeys.”
Deangelo said the only turkeys he is able to find from suppliers now are frozen turkeys. Mazzye’s tends to shy away from these turkeys because they take longer to de-thaw and are designed to be sold well in advance of the meal to customers. Deangelo said frozen birds may be the final option for some people that have yet to buy a turkey, though, and they could potentially be found at larger grocery stores.
“I think there’s a good chance, in the next few days, if they go to get a turkey they can go to get a frozen one from a big chain store,” Deangelo said. “But I’m pretty sure most of the smaller stores, like this one, are starting to run out because we only have so much space.”
In a statement to NCC News, Wegmans Public Relations representative, Laura Camera, said while the grocery chain has experienced supply disruptions to some goods across their stores, they expect turkey shipments to continue up until the holiday.
“As far as turkeys specifically, our merchandising team works with our meat suppliers to secure turkeys as early as January to ensure that we have enough for the holiday season,” Camera said. “Going into Thanksgiving, we will continue to have shipments of turkeys coming to our stores right up to the holiday.”
Deangelo said his suppliers have told him that their supply of frozen turkeys is down to the final few cases.
“You can get, like I said, a frozen turkey from any big box store until they run out, but eventually that supply is going to run out, too, because I also can’t order any more frozen turkeys, except for what the people I buy my supplies from already have,” Deangelo said. “I was told today when I called just to double check on a couple customers that I do have for local businesses that are around, they said if you need any more frozen turkeys, the one person I said I have a couple of cases left, just in case the number were to change.”