Home for the Holidays on WPRI.com

Smaller turkeys in high demand as officials urge downsized Thanksgiving gatherings

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SEEKONK, Mass. (WPRI) — With Thanksgiving fast approaching and government and health officials advising people to keep their gatherings small, there appears to be an increased demand for holiday turkeys.

During her recent coronavirus briefings, Gov. Gina Raimondo has urged families to scale back their celebrations.

“Even if their party is smaller, everyone wants a turkey on the table on Thanksgiving,” Belwing Turkey Farm co-owner Roslyn Dickens said Tuesday.

Belwing’s turkeys can be seen and heard running around a fenced-in area at the Seekonk farm, which has been around since the 1940s.

“My father grew 200 turkeys, sold them all quickly, and my mother said, ‘ahah! This could be a business!'” Dickens recalled.

Dickens said the pandemic has affected company gift orders.

“I have seen that drop off a little bit this year because some of the people in those companies are working from home,” she explained.

She also mentioned how COVID-19 is shifting her sales, but the farm hasn’t run out of turkeys just yet.

“People who ordered 40-pound turkeys in the past are ordering 10-pound turkeys now,” Dickens said. “We’re selling a lot of smaller turkeys now because people aren’t having large gatherings.”

Customers usually line up outside, waiting to pick up their orders hours before the farm opens because they enjoy visiting with people they only see once a year, according to Dickens. But to practice social distancing, that’s changed this year.

“They’re going to see people’s cars that they only see once a year, and the staff is going to be running out around outside,” she said.

The increase in demand for turkeys may have some families concerned that grocery stores and other distributors may sell out.

Jennifer Brogan, Stop and Shop’s director of external communications and community relations, said the supermarket chain doesn’t anticipate that will happen.

“Orders for these meats are placed much earlier in the year, so these items are already in cold storage,” she wrote in an email to 12 News.

She also said they have smaller birds available, such as “4-7lbs. Turkey Breast as well as Cook-in-Bag 3lb. Boneless Turkeys from Butterball” to help cater to smaller gatherings.

Susan Budlong, the marketing and communication director for Dave’s Fresh Marketplace, had a similar response.

“Dave’s has reserved turkeys with our suppliers that we feel will be plentiful for our customer needs,” she said.

Budlong suggested getting orders in sooner rather than later. They can be placed on the Dave’s Fresh Marketplace website.

Raimondo is expected to announce specific guidelines for Thanksgiving during her coronavirus briefing next week.

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