Turkeys, yams and pies are low in supply, though aluminum foil to cover it all will be easier to find than last year
BY THE WALL STREET JOURNAL // NOVEMBER 9, 2021
The supply-chain crunch is about to hit another part of American life: Thanksgiving dinner.
Supplies of food and household items are 4% to 11% lower than normal as of Oct. 31, according to data from market-research firm IRI. That figure isn’t far from the bare shelves of March 2020, when supplies were down 13%.
For grocery shoppers this holiday season, it means that someone with 20 items on their list would be out of luck on two of them.
Although U.S. supermarket operators started purchasing holiday items early, aiming to avoid shortages, many holiday essentials are already in short supply.
Here’s what’s in and out of stock right now, according to IRI data.
Turkeys are very low in stock.
By the end of October turkeys were over 60% out of stock—lower than the same time last year by more than 30 percentage points. A spokesperson for Butterball LLC, one of the largest U.S. turkey processors, said the company has been experiencing similar labor and supply challenges as other organizations and industries.
Cranberry sauce is low in stock.
Cans of cranberry sauce are 20% out of stock and in decline. A representative on behalf of Ocean Spray Cranberries Inc., which manufactures cranberry sauce and other fruit products, said it has been experiencing issues with materials and transportation that may result in reduced availability.
Yams and sweet potatoes are low in stock.
In recent weeks, supplies of sweet potatoes and yams have remained below last year’s levels. Currently, they are a quarter out of stock.
Boxes of stuffing are low in stock, but higher than last year.
Stuffing might be OK! In recent weeks, supplies of boxed stuffing have been increasing, though still remain below average levels. In anticipation of holiday demand, food giant Kraft Heinz Co. increased production of Stove Top Stuffing by 25% compared with last year, according to a spokesperson.
Refrigerated pies are low in stock.
Supplies of refrigerated pie have been declining steadily over the past month. Besides turkey, this product will be among the most out-of-stock of essential Thanksgiving items. Frozen pies will be slightly easier to find.
Aluminum foil is lowish in stock, but higher than last year.
One item that will be easier to find than last year is foil, so at least you can store your Thanksgiving leftovers—if you find those foods in the first place.
Overall, household items are slightly easier to find than last year whereas food products are slightly harder.
Essential ingredients might not be the only things absent from Thanksgiving dinner this year. Guests traveling will be faced with car rental and gas prices the highest they have been in seven years.
Rental-car fleets have experienced shortages for months, and are expected to continue into the holiday season.
Flight prices, while lower than pre-pandemic levels, are on the rise again, and travel advisers are recommending consumers buy those holiday tickets now. Thanksgiving-week bookings were 35.5% higher in early October than at the same point in 2019, according to analytics firm AirDNA.
As for gifts, stores are encouraging people to shop early and are running holiday sales much sooner than previous years.
Write to Stephanie Stamm at Stephanie.Stamm@wsj.com
Corrections & Amplifications
Supplies of food and household items are 4% to 11% lower than normal as of Oct. 31. An earlier version of this article said supplies are 11% lower than normal as of Oct. 31. (Updated on Nov. 9)