Butterball Turkeys weighing 12-14 lbs. cost almost $40 at Albertsons on NM 528.(Michaela Helean)
Get ready to spend more than you are used to on a Thanksgiving turkey this year.
The cost is higher than ever, with average prices soaring to $40-$50 for a 12-14-pound bird. Larger ones that weigh near 20 pounds cost close to $70.
There are many factors weighing in here. Each store has a different price and size, Avian Flu(HPAI) is running rampant through turkeys and supply chain issues.
And then, there’s inflation.
General Prices in Rio Rancho stores
Rio Rancho has many stores to pick from when buying a turkey. The price increase for turkeys is here, too.
So far, the least expensive are Costco and Target, while the most expensive are Albertsons and Smith’s.
But there are deals out there. Some of these stores have specials for Thanksgiving meal kits that serve one or two people.
Albertsons has a Signature Cafe Holiday Dinner Kit Turkey Dinner With Traditional Stuffing that comes with all sides at an affordable price.
Here are the local prices as of Friday, Nov. 11:
- Walmart: $1.18 per pound for turkeys weighing 10-16 pounds.
- Costco: 99 cents per pound for turkeys ranging 12-20 pounds.
- Target: 99 cents per pound for turkeys ranging 10-16 pounds.
- Albertsons: $1.69 per pound for turkeys weighing anywhere from 10-25 pounds.
- Smith’s: $1.69 per pound for turkeys weighing 20-24 pounds.
Supply and demand
The American Farm Bureau found that the retail price for fresh boneless, skinless turkey breast reached a record high of $6.70 per pound in September, 112% higher than the same time in 2021 when prices were $3.16 per pound.
AFBF says it is important to understand that farmers aren’t profiting from record high retail prices. High supply costs for feed, fuel, fertilizer and labor make raising turkeys even more expensive.
“All of us are feeling the pain of higher prices at the grocery store,” said AFBF President Zippy Duvall. “HPAI outbreaks in the spring and an uptick in cases in the fall are taking a toll, but farmers remain dedicated to ensuring America’s food supply remains strong.”
Thanksgiving turkey is the number-one main course food item for the holiday. Statista did a survey in 2021 which showed 83 percent of the 1,373 respondents in the U.S. said they prefer turkey.
In New Mexico, however, posole and tamales are the most popular. Posole is a soupy dish that simmers for hours and tamales are a pouch of meat and chile made from corn dough — all wrapped in a corn husk.
Some people pair the posole and tamales with Thanksgiving turkey.
Avian Flu, also known as bird flu, is a disease caused by infection with avian influenza Type A viruses according to the Centers for Disease Control. These viruses naturally spread among wild aquatic birds worldwide and can infect domestic poultry and other bird and animal species.
Bird flu viruses do not normally infect humans, although sporadic human infections have occurred.
Turkeys are susceptible to the disease.
“Since early 2022, more than 49 million birds in 46 states have either died as a result of bird flu virus infection or have been culled (killed) due to exposure to infected birds,” the CDC said.
Although the risk to the general public from the current bird flu outbreaks remains low, it is important that people take preventive measures around infected or potentially infected birds/poultry to prevent the spread of bird flu viruses to themselves or to other birds/poultry and other animals, including pets.
Recipes and Tips
There are several popular ways to cook a Thanksgiving turkey. Butterball turkeys come with instructions to follow traditionally. But there are variations.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has a few suggestions:
- Traditional roasting or traditional roasting with stuffing: “Pop that turkey into a roasting pan, set the oven to 325˚F, and check back in a couple hours. When your food thermometer registers 165˚F in the innermost part of the thigh, the innermost part of the wing and the thickest part of the breast, the turkey is ready. Let it stand for 15-20 minutes so the juices can settle, then it’s ready to carve.” With stuffing: “This method is still easy, but requires a little more work. Shortly before you plan to put the turkey in the oven, prepare your stuffing, and stuff the turkey. When your food thermometer registers 165˚F in the innermost part of the thigh, the innermost part of the wing, the thickest part of the breast and the center of the stuffing, the turkey is ready. Remove the stuffing immediately and cover. Let the turkey stand for 15-20 minutes so the juices can settle, then it’s ready to carve.”
- Oven bag roasting: “If you want to cook your turkey the easy way, but a little faster, use an oven bag. The oven bag will save cooking and cleanup time. Follow the cooking directions on the box; add 30 minutes to the recommended cooking time if you choose to stuff your turkey. Your turkey is safe to eat when the thermometer registers 165˚F in the innermost part of the thigh, the innermost part of the wing, the thickest part of the breast and the center of the stuffing.”
- Grilling or smoking: “Cooking the turkey outside leaves more room for other dishes in the oven and also results in a delicious turkey. Grilling is cooking food over direct heat on a rack set over charcoal, wood or special rocks heated by a gas flame. Allow 15 to 18 minutes per pound when cooking a turkey on the grill. When the weather is cold it could take longer. Smoking is cooking food indirectly and slowly over a drip pan in a covered grill or smoker. Cooking time depends on many factors: the type of meat, its size and shape, the distance of food from the heat, the temperature of the coals and the weather. It can take anywhere from four to eight hours to smoke a turkey. Turkeys that are grilled or smoked should not be stuffed. Smoked or grilled, your turkey is safe to eat when the thermometer registers 165˚F in the innermost part of the thigh, the innermost part of the wing and the thickest part of the breast.”
- Spatchcocking: “”Spatchcocking” is a fancy term for cooking a whole turkey or chicken by removing the backbone and splaying the bird out flat. Among the benefits of spatchcocking are a quicker cooking time, easier carving and a moister turkey. The turkey also takes up less room in the oven since it is flat.To spatchcock your turkey, use sturdy kitchen shears to cut along the both sides of the turkey’s backbone and remove it. Flip the bird over and flatten it by breaking the breast bone. Brush your turkey with olive oil, salt and pepper (if desired). Roast at 450˚F for approximately 70 minutes for a 12-pound turkey. Your turkey is safe to eat when the thermometer registers 165˚F in the innermost part of the thigh, the innermost part of the wing and the thickest part of the breast.”
- Fried turkey: “Although a whole turkey can cook in less than an hour using this method, there are safety concerns when working with such a large amount of hot oil. A whole turkey can be successfully cooked by the deep fat frying method, provided the turkey is not stuffed and has been completely thawed. The turkey should be 12 pounds or less in size. “