After wine, turkey might also be hard to find in the supermarket one week before Christmas. And consumers who get their hands on it will pay more since its price has increased by 43% compared to last year, according to the Poultry Farmers of Quebec (EVQ).
“The trend indicates a fairly marked increase in prices. It is higher than the increase in production costs on the farm, ”indicates Pierre-Luc Leblanc, president of EVQ. Currently, according to the websites of the different brands, the price of a frozen turkey weighing 5 kg to 7 kg varies enormously. It is between $ 22 and $ 49.99.
How to explain this increase and these differences? “I sell birds with legs and feathers,” replied Mr. Leblanc, laughing. Once they are processed and brought to market, I no longer have control over them. He nevertheless indicates that stocks are “historically low”. Mr. Leblanc reminds that turkey production in Quebec operates according to the supply management system and thus adjusts to demand.
“We thought that the confinement would decrease the consumption of turkeys due to the lack of gathering. But, on the contrary, people are at home and they have time to cook. We had not expected such a large demand, admits the president of EVQ. We got caught. The demand is there, the stocks are not there. So, that makes price increases. ”
Towards a shortage?
If all the conditions are met to lead to a shortage of turkeys, Mr. Leblanc remains cautious.
Theoretically, stocks are very low. I don’t know if we are going to get to the shortage, but our stock is much lower than in other years.
Pierre-Luc Leblanc, President of the Poultry Breeders of Quebec
Exceldor, one of the largest poultry processing companies, is not worried, however. “The quantity produced in 2021 is the same as the previous year; everyone will manage to get their turkey for the holidays, ”assures Jordan Ouellet, company spokesperson.
On the side of the Retail Council of Canada, which represents all the major brands, Francis Mailly, director of government relations, ensures that merchants are not experiencing any shortage at this time.
Three to four million “Christmas turkeys” occur annually in Quebec. The holiday season generates approximately 39% of the total sales of this product. Out of 750 poultry farmers, 150 specialize in turkeys.
Regarding the rising cost of the bird, Jordan Ouellet, of Exceldor, states that “the fluctuation in the price per kilo of turkey simply follows the generalized tangent of the rise in the grocery basket, which is explained by a multitude of factors ”.
Pierre-Luc Leblanc insists on the fact that it is important that the turkey remains a commodity product. “We don’t want to become a refined product. We don’t want to under-produce to create a niche market. ”
In addition to the rising price of turkeys, Mr. Leblanc does not hide the fact that the poultry industry in general (turkey, chicken) has had its “worst year”. He refers in particular to the strike lasting several weeks which disrupted chicken slaughtering capacities at the Exceldor plant in Saint-Anselme. The labor dispute led to the euthanasia of more than 1 million chickens.
However, although the plant resumed its activities during the summer, everything is not back to normal, according to the president of Éleveurs de poulailles du Québec. The labor shortage means that the company cannot buy as many birds as it should, because they cannot be slaughtered. “I am 100% victim of it. I have lots of chickens that don’t come out. It will take other slaughterhouses. ”
Jordan Ouellet recognizes that there is a slowdown in activities. “We are indeed affected by the labor shortage, which concerns both our teams of catchers [de poulets] than factory workers, preventing our factories from operating at peak performance. ”
Turkey or turkey?
The meat classification uses the masculine to denote meat from this poultry regardless of the sex of the animal. Turkey or turkey are therefore equivalent, according to the Le Dindon du Québec website.