Grocers caught in turkey war

The cost of turkeys has escalated this year, and some stores are deeply discounting the bird to attract shoppers.

By Kim Peterson Nov 23, 2011 3:25PM
Turkeys have not come cheap this year as U.S. farmers have passed steep grain prices on to customers. The traditional Thanksgiving dinner will cost about 13% more this year, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation.

To keep budget-minded customers from getting sticker shock, some grocery chains are deeply discounting the birds. That's created a "turkey war" between stores fighting for every last consumer dollar.

Post continues below.
"There are tremendous turkey wars," one Barclays Capital analyst told The Financial Times. "Most [supermarkets] do not make money on turkeys. They make money on everything else."

It's very common for grocery stores to chop the price of one featured item in hopes of making up the money on ancillary sales. Turkeys are a perfect scenario for this strategy, as Thanksgiving shoppers might also pick up potatoes, pumpkin pie and other items that can be sold for a profit.

The Supervalu (SVU) chain was selling frozen turkeys for between 47 and 49 cents a pound, the FT reports. The company runs the Albertsons, Shaw's and Cub Foods stores.

Safeway (SWY) was selling turkeys for $5 each with an additional $25 purchase in San Jose, Calif. In Arizona, the chain was selling the birds for 59 cents a pound with the additional purchase.

In Louisiana, a 16-pound turkey was running at 87 cents a pound, according to the HoumaToday site.

Other stores are giving free turkeys if you blow out your entire Thanksgiving budget there. Kmart stores, owned by Sears Holdings (SHLD), are offering a free 10-12 pound turkey if you spend $250 on other items, reports the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. What a bargain.

How much will grocers have to give in order to retain market share this holiday? The stores already operate on thin margins, and the budget-conscious shopper isn't going to allow for many gains.
Nov 23, 2011 4:51PM

Turkeys are a bargain even if they cost twice what they did last year, period. There is no issue here.  It's healthy and it's cheap.  People cry about a once or twice-a-year turkey purchase, and they pay $3 for a cup of coffee or $1 for a bottle of water. 


Turkey prices are a non-issue.

Nov 23, 2011 4:42PM
Well, the cost of my turkey dropped by 100% this year as I received mine for free. When I was planning a nice Sunday ham dinner a few weeks ago I noticed an ad for our local grocery store with a coupon for buy 1 ham at regular price get 1 turkey free. I received my 14lb bird at no cost. A savings of $15 or so. And I didn't even have to spend a RIDICULOUS $250 to get it, only $20!!! :)
Nov 23, 2011 5:10PM

Turkey prices rose because grain (feed) prices rose.  Grain prices rose because feed grain is scarce.  Why?  Because the idiots in congress mandated that we drive around on ethanol, made from grain.  Why?  To reduce pollution.  Does it?  Of course not!  It generates substantially more carbon emissions to produce and transport the stuff than is reduced by burning it instead of petroleum.  The ethanol mandate increased the cost of all meats, bread, many vegetable dishes, etc., while INCREASING pollution and destroying any neoprene, etc., seals in the fuel system of your vehicle.

So, once again, an act of congress did the exact opposite of what it was supposed to do while having all kinds of 'unforeseen' negative consequences.  Oh, and we give subsidies (actual cash) to the oil companies to do this.     

Turkey prices DO matter.  Because they are just the tip of the ethanol iceberg.  REPEAL the ethanol act NOW.


P.S.  UNOME344     Grain is what beer is made you know why your beer costs more.

Nov 23, 2011 4:36PM
this is all fine and good for the folks in big towns but once again rural america is screweed. I live in a town of 50,000 with 2 grocery stores and Turkeys on sale are $1.49 per pound. Ridiculas!! Next year I will grow my own
Nov 23, 2011 5:15PM
In our small town in Iowa we have two grocery stores.  Fareway is selling turkeys for $0.79 / lb and HyVee was offering a free 10-12 lb turkey with purchase of a Hormel ham at $2.99 / lb average weight 6-8 lbs.  Didn't think that was too bad of a deal.  Need the ham for x-mas anyways
Nov 23, 2011 5:33PM
Well i personally went hunting and bagged a 121/2 lb dressed weight turkey sure is going to taste good======I expect all the non hunters to have a problem with this and if you do don't eat anything that has to be killed to eat or your are the problem yourselves.
Nov 23, 2011 5:11PM
kimmegee I wish i was back in idaho, i would have venison and grouse for thanksgiving and it would have only cost be one bullett each.
Nov 23, 2011 5:00PM

We live in a rural town too, but we have one grocery store. Market Basket and they always run turkeys on sale. I bought two this week for like $4 each. They were 29cents a pound. With a $25 dollar purchase, but who don't spend $25 on other stuff anyway. A couple loaves of bread and a gallon or two  of milk almost makes up half that purchase.

Nov 23, 2011 5:10PM
Yeah, who the hell cares?/  And its not a issue. We are having 21 people at dinner. My 23lb fresh bird was 25 bucks. Holy cow??!!  Over a dollar per serving..whoa is Now, lets talk beer prices!!  My case of Victory mixed pack was $36. Now thats outrageous!!
Nov 23, 2011 5:48PM
hey  we have a load of turkeys in tx. & d.c. theyre nicknamed politicians or repubs & they're free for haul off so come get yer turkeys we have too many perverted ones here
Nov 23, 2011 4:59PM
We spent $17.65 for a 23.85 lb bird; @ 74 cents per lb. Not bad. Our entire dinner will cost under $30 as the rest of the stuff; potatoes, vegatables, ande dessert is really cheap. The trick for us is NOT to buy a name brand bird. The plain wrap bird cooks just as well, and is no more difficult to cook.
Nov 23, 2011 6:07PM
I have had wild turkey plenty of times for Thanksgiving.  I haven't had one yet that was not greasy & they are almost all dark meat.  I will shop at my local Wegman's, .29 cents a lb. for a 16 -20 lb turkey with a purchase of $25.00 or more.  BUT to all you hunters that did get a turkey & are eating it for Thanksgiving....KUDOS to you.  Every hunter that shoots & kills something should either eat it or give it to someone that needs it.   There are lots of hunters in my area of PA & thanks to them lots of people will have food in their freezer this year...A big Thank You for the hunters that hunt for the right reasons!
Nov 23, 2011 4:50PM
Yet with all these turkey sales, we still have a turkey in the White House.
Nov 23, 2011 5:40PM
You can get a turkey 24 cents lb at HEB
Nov 23, 2011 5:10PM
farmers did not pass the cost along the store chains and packer set the price they pay farmers and the price the stores charge us. the only choice the farmers have is grow or not grow the birds. Many of them contract the bird prices before buying them to grow to full size so the price the packers had to pay was of course the minimum they could still get someone to raise them for. Guys I know who did grow thousands didn't raise a single one because it would have been a guarenteed loss.
Nov 23, 2011 4:50PM
Thanksgiving is getting to be more and more of a pain in the **** and a waste of money. I'm not doing anything next year but stay home make pizza ,drink beer and watch football..
Nov 23, 2011 5:06PM
Turkey is still a reasonably priced item.  Even at full price.  But whenthey are   on sale, better yet!

Nov 23, 2011 4:56PM

Turkey in the White House???, not really.


LFN from Mombasa, Kenya-------------------------Yea, Buddy !!!!

Nov 23, 2011 5:05PM
Thank God for my church home World Changers Church International and Pastors Dr. Creflo and Taffi Dollar for the second year that i served at we gave away Thanksgiving dinner to any and all that came by the church parking lot on last Saturday. It just feels good to bless people.
Nov 23, 2011 5:50PM
We have turkeys at 0.26 cents per pound for jenny-0 brand with $50 food purchase.
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