Turkey shortage of 2021 has farmers planning early for Christmas

·2 min read
Turkey and chickens sold quickly during the holiday season in 2021, so farmer Matt Hodgson is encouraging people to book earlier for next year.  (Matt Hodgson - image credit)
Turkey and chickens sold quickly during the holiday season in 2021, so farmer Matt Hodgson is encouraging people to book earlier for next year. (Matt Hodgson - image credit)

A turkey farmer on P.E.I. is encouraging Islanders to shop early for Christmas this year.

Really early.

Matt Hodgson, co-owner of Field and Fodder Farm in Murray River, says after a sellout holiday season in 2021, anyone who wants a Christmas chicken or turkey in 2022 should think about booking now.

"Orders started early, like it was right after Thanksgiving," Hodgson said. "People were kind of knocking on the door, asking, 'Do we have turkeys available? When are we going to do our next one?'"

And by December?

"We were sold out and had people messaging on Facebook and even showing up at the door," he said. "We were having to turn people away. Sold like double the birds in a very short amount of time, which kind of surprised us."

Matt Hodgson
Matt Hodgson

Hodgson owns and runs the farm with his wife, Michelle, and their five children.

He said he didn't expect the shortage of turkeys from larger scale producers to trickle down to small scale farmers. He thinks he could have sold more if he had the inventory.

"We ended up selling the turkey that we saved for ourselves just to try to meet the demand, and we ended up cooking a duck for Christmas," he said. "So yeah, it was a little different around here, too."

Producers and customers aren't the only ones experiencing the shortage. Hodgson said his suppliers and hatcheries are seeing it too — so he's had to order what he needs for his farm months earlier than he normally would.

Other provinces saw turkey get gobbled up early this season as well. Some producers in Nova Scotia say they didn't predict demand would increase in 2021, and in British Columbia, frozen turkey inventories were at their lowest in more than 20 years.

For now, Hodgson has ordered more than he thinks they will need for the coming year.

His customers have started booking for Thanksgiving and Christmas 2022.

"I think we're up somewhere around 15 that are already pre-sold at this point, which is crazy considering it's January 10th and we just got through Christmas," he said.

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