News & Politics

DC Butchers Say Your Turkey Will Be Way More Expensive This Thanksgiving

Blame the Avian flu.

Photograph via iStock.

You’ll likely be able to get a bird for turkey day, but like many items these days, the price will be high.

Local butchers and markets have been dealing with a few crises this year, most notably the avian flu, which has reduced the country’s turkey supply. The illness, first detected in February, has killed approximately 6 million of the birds around the country. Commercial farms, which cram many birds into one facility, especially suffered says Greg Herring, who works at Union Market butcher Harvey’s Market: “Once [these farms] have one case, it runs through it pretty quickly.”

Artisanal farms, Herring says, are different because animals are able to roam more freely and aren’t kept in such confined spaces. So while those farms have turkeys to sell this year, their prices have skyrocketed—they are about 40 to 50 percent higher than in recent years. Another problem: Herring says a number of farms shut down early in the pandemic and haven’t reemerged. Harvey’s has already cut off reservations for Thanksgiving turkeys, about two weeks earlier than usual.

Isabell Kidwell, manager of Wagshal’s in Spring Valley, says the market has enough turkeys, but its prices will also be higher. The long-running shop gets its turkeys from small farms in Pennsylvania, and costs have risen between 30 and 40 percent. A smoked whole turkey from Wagshal’s will run you about $119, and an oven-ready raw 12 to 14 pound turkey will be about $100.

Nationally, prices for boneless, skinless turkey breast have hit a record high of $6.70 per pound— about 112 percent higher than 2021’s $3.16 per pound—according to Farm Bureau’s market intel. The previous record was during a 2015 bird flu outbreak, when prices reached $5.88 per pound. When it comes to whole turkeys, there’s been less of a jump, according to the bureau. National prices in the fall of 2021 were $1.44 per pound; this year they have risen to $1.72.

At Georgetown butcher Stachowski’s, the Thanksgiving turkey breast offering is $15.99 per pound. A raw whole turkey is $8.49 per pound, about $110 for a 12-14 pound bird. The market doesn’t expect to run out before the big day, and employee Norman Menjivar says they are still taking orders.

Editorial Fellow

Keely recently graduated with her master’s in journalism from American University and has reported on local DC, national politics, and business. She has previously written for The Capitol Forum.