SAN ANTONIO — October dollar sales of whole bird turkeys are 180% above October 2020 levels and 194% higher in volume, according to the latest meat and poultry analysis from IRI and 210 Analytics, made possible by Marriner Marketing.

The finding is in line with an IRI shopper survey in which 36% of shoppers said they plan to start shopping earlier this year. This has been a trend all throughout the pandemic, making the full week before the holiday the biggest week for most departments, rather than the holiday week itself, according to the report.

There is ample supply of whole bird turkey in the marketplace, and consumers have more choice with the average number of items per store up 6.6% in October 2021 versus a year ago. Additionally, prices for whole bird turkey remain favorable with the average price per volume at $1.42, which is down 4.8% from October 2020. 

The price per unit is also up, signaling larger birds in the marketplace than last year. The average price for one whole bird turkey is $21.55, which is up 2.6%. Specific preferences for certain sizes, brands or fresh versus frozen aside, finding turkey should be no problem this year.

Other survey findings are:

· 36% hosting or attending a party with guests beyond their own household and 25% preparing a special meal for just their own household.

· In addition to or in lieu of Thanksgiving dinner, 8% are also doing a “Friendsgiving” meal with friends.

· Only 9% are not planning on a special celebration this year.

· The average party size is also expected to be bigger this year, at an average of seven to eight people.

· 22% expect to spend more on Thanksgiving dinner than they did last year, in part because of inflation and in part because of a larger party size.