People who raise and sell turkeys in Nova Scotia are concerned how COVID-19 will affect Thanksgiving this year.
The Nova Scotia government is recommending smaller gatherings in close social groups of up to 10 without physical distancing.
But people are "strongly encouraged" to celebrate the holiday with those consistent in that group.
"[If] we do not have a good Thanksgiving ... we really suffer," said Steven Eadie, chairman of Turkey Farmers of Nova Scotia.
Eadie said Thanksgiving sales account for about 25 per cent of business. He said turkey producers can't just rely on Christmas, which accounts for another 30 per cent, this year.
"If we forgo Thanksgiving and rely on Christmas, it could be devastating for us in Nova Scotia because all we grow is a whole-bird market here," Eadie said.
He said Nova Scotians eat more turkey than anyone in Canada. "We're meat and potatoes," he said.
'Sales have been pretty good for turkeys'
Eadie, who raises antibiotic-free turkeys for Butterball, said he hopes people will buy a whole turkey this year, even if Thanksgiving festivities have to be scaled back. He also encourages people to consider buying turkeys outside the holiday season.
"You can still go out and buy a turkey and support our industry," he said.
Susan Hamilton, a farmer at Wild Pasture Farm outside Truro, N.S., said demand for turkey is up this year.
For the past few years, she said she's always ordered 120 day-old turkeys from Quebec.
While she thought about reducing her order this year, she went ahead as planned. She said she sold a few more than usual.
"Sales have been pretty good for turkeys so far," she said.
'It does feel busier'
Sharon Matson, who works as a cook at the Free Range Store in Bedford, said the demand for turkeys and other meat for Thanksgiving is at least at the level it was last year.
"It does seem like a lot of people are celebrating Thanksgiving this year," Matson said. "It does feel busier than it did last year. We've been busy pretty much for the full year but I'd say we're on track."
Matson said ham and chicken are also really popular this year. She said many people want to buy local, especially this year with the pandemic.
"People want to know that they can support small business," she said.
Not everyone getting a boost
But not every business is seeing a boost in turkey sales this week.
Tamara Selig, one of the owners of Gateway Meat Market in Dartmouth, N.S., said "this year is not falling into past traditions."
"With COVID, people aren't planning huge dinners for a dozen or 20 people," Selig said. "So we definitely don't see the typical week-before-Thanksgiving spike in groceries right now."
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