Remembering to defrost the turkey might not be the only challenge families face as they try to get that perennial centerpiece onto the Thanksgiving table this year. As of August 31, inventories of frozen whole turkeys and turkey parts were 24% lower than three-year average volumes, according to USDA’s Economic Research Service. Stocks of frozen turkey meat typically follow a seasonal pattern, building throughout the year until the fall, when retailers prepare to meet holiday demand.

In 2021, the seasonal build-up was less pronounced than usual, and stock volumes appear to have peaked before starting an earlier-than-normal decline. At the end of August 2021, 428.1 million pounds of turkey meat were in cold storage, a 19% decrease from the same month last year, and a decline of about seven million pounds from the end of July 2021. Stocks are lower partly because production of turkeys is lower than average this year.

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