Talking tinier turkey for Thanksgiving: COVID-19 disrupts supply chain

  • Anne Diemand Bucci with turkeys at Diemand Farm in Wendell on Monday. She usually makes several trips for poults over the summer to a hatchery in Canada, but due to travel restrictions made only one trip in September, plus one to a hatchery in Massachusetts. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Kelcie Hillard carries boxes of fresh turkeys at Diemand Farm in Wendell on Monday. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Kellie Paluck of South Hadley buys a turkey form Tessa White-Diemand at Diemand Farm in Wendell on Monday. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Diemand Farm on Mormon Hollow Road in Wendell. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Staff Writer
Published: 11/25/2020 8:02:42 PM

Bird is still the word this Thanksgiving, but circumstances created by the COVID-19 pandemic have in many cases resulted in a smaller main course.

Tinier turkeys seem to be the theme nationwide this year, as supply-chain issues and smaller gatherings have affected the market.

“It’s been very different for us,” said Anne Diemand Bucci, co-owner of Diemand Farm in Wendell.

She explained the farm gets poults (young birds) at a hatchery in Canada, usually bringing home two batches in June, two in July and one or two in August. Batches typically consist of 500 to 800 turkeys. But, Diemand Bucci said, travel restrictions and safety protocols meant she and daughter Tessa White-Diemand could make only one trip to Canada, in September, as well as the typical trip to Bob’s Turkey Farm in Lancaster at the end of May.

This added up to fewer and smaller birds when it came time to slaughter.

Diemand Bucci said her turkeys typically range from 12 to roughly 30 pounds. This year, the average is only about 9 pounds.

But Diemand Bucci said customers have been incredibly understanding, even appreciative, because now they won’t have much leftover meat following their smaller-than-usual gatherings.

“They seem to be happy with smaller turkeys,” she said, adding that 10 pounds is normally the smallest bird that people request. “People are actually being very nice and understanding because we’re not used to having these tiny turkeys.”

Diemand Bucci mentioned she and her daughter typically make an adventure out of their Canada trips (seven hours each way), visiting wineries or cideries in Quebec. But travel was so tight this year that an officer at the border said they were not allowed to stop at any restaurants or gas stations, and the two were forced to park at a cemetery for hours until they were due at the hatchery.

Diane Rollins, who has co-owned D&R Farm in Hampden for nine years with her husband, David, said they get their poults from a Pennsylvania hatchery that delivers them and though the supply chain was not disrupted, the farm produced smaller birds this year because that’s what customers wanted.

“That’s more of the reason than anything else,” she said.

D&R Farm’s turkeys typically average about 30 pounds, but were 20 to 25 pounds this year.

Butterball’s Turkey Talk Line (1-800-BUTTERBALL) is up and running. According to the company’s website, professional turkey experts are available to answer any turkey cooking questions. The seasonal hotline started more than 30 years ago. The University of Illinois Extension reports Americans eat 46 million turkeys on Thanksgiving.

Reach Domenic Poli at: dpoli@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 262.




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