All scary stories about turkey shortages and big price hikes may have consumers feeling more like it’s Halloween than the season of Thanksgiving.

But never fear, Mainers, local grocery stores say there will still be plenty of birds available for your holiday tables, and at reasonable prices.

An outbreak of avian influenza last spring killed nearly 8 million turkeys, raising the possibility of higher prices and smaller birds. Wholesale frozen turkeys were $1.309 a pound in early November, up 5.6 percent from last year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Fresh turkeys were selling wholesale for $1.5993 a pound, up 18 percent. Most frozen turkeys were slaughtered and frozen before the avian flu outbreak, according to the National Turkey Federation.

On Friday, a USDA survey of prices for whole hen turkeys – the ones most commonly eaten at Thanksgiving – at major retail supermarket outlets in the Northeast showed that prices range from 37 cents per pound to $1.99 per pound for frozen hens and 99 cents per pound to $2.29 per pound for fresh birds.

Turkeys are often a loss leader for grocers looking to lure shoppers in so they will purchase the rest of their Thanksgiving meal at the stores as well.

Eric Blom, spokesman for Maine’s Hannaford supermarkets, said Thanksgiving turkeys are “kind of a marquee product, for sure.”


“Particularly around the holidays,” he said, “turkey is a really important product for our customers, and we recognize that.”

Hannaford will be selling its frozen store brand turkeys for 59 cents per pound, the same price as last year.

Shaw’s would not provide pricing details but spokeswoman Teresa Edington said the grocery chain would have “ample supplies” of fresh and frozen turkeys “at very competitive prices.”

At Whole Foods Market, prices of some varieties of turkey are up slightly over last year, but it’s probably because of the rising cost of feed, not because of avian influenza, which didn’t affect their farms, according to Amy Crosby, marketing team leader at the Portland store.

Whole Foods purchases most of its turkeys from Jaindl Turkey Farms in Orefield, Pennsylvania. Its fresh, free-range turkeys cost $2.60 per pound, up 20 cents per pound over last year. Frozen turkeys, purchased from Plainville Farms in New Oxford, Pennsylvania, are up 10 cents per pound, at $1.99 per pound. The stores’ organic and pre-brined turkeys cost the same as last year.

Size also doesn’t appear to be much of an issue. Crosby said Whole Foods has turkeys available in the 8-pound to 30-pound range.

Blom said there will be larger birds available at Hannaford as well.

“We actually have more larger birds this year than last year, so supply has not been affected for us,” he said.

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