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Listen in: Southeastern Grocers CEO Anthony Hucker says Winn-Dixie customers should buy turkeys ahead, consider alternatives this Thanksgiving

Photo: Pixabay
Photo: Pixabay

The inventory of frozen turkeys in grocery stores across the US is at a three year all-time low according to the US Department of Agriculture. 

Factors like a rise in the cost of feed and a shortage of workers at production plants and along trucking routes are to blame. 

WMFE spoke with Southeastern Grocers CEO and President Anthony Hucker about how things are looking ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday at Winn-Dixies in Florida.

Read the full interview below. 

Danielle: So Anthony, I've been reading that there is a shortage of turkeys across the country. Are we seeing that here in Florida at Winn-Dixie? So I was looking at your flyer this weekend for my own selfish reasons. And I noticed that it's limit one right now.

Anthony: Right? Yeah. I mean, we're not immune to the supply chain challenges at all, Danielle. I like to say that supply chain's bending, it's not it's not broken. But we put the customer's needs in the center of every single conversation we have. And so although there are there are order limits we have, we have plenty of turkeys available. And they're slightly bigger this year, because we think family gatherings are going to be slightly bigger than than than last year. But in the event, someone doesn't want to, you know, a whole turkey, we've got various different alternatives, whether it's turkey breast, or spiral ham, etc. So we're in good shape.

Danielle: Can you tell me a little bit about what is causing this shortage? I've heard so many different reasons from so many different people, but in your perspective, kind of what is causing a shortage of especially smaller turkeys?

Anthony: Yeah, so I mean, last year, we were expecting smaller gatherings. So hence the smaller birds. And this year, I think as communities are opening up more, I think there'll be more of a traditional family gathering hence, hence the larger bird, but a lot of and a lot of production facilities, where there have been, you know, positive COVID cases an entire facility may have to be closed down. So that it on top of increased raw material costs, feeding costs, etc. has caused the actual supply chain to be you know, it's there's less availability than there was last year.

Danielle: Do you think that this will also affect the number of turkeys, hams and other kinds of traditional Christmas foods? Are you guys already prepping ahead of time for that?

Anthony: Yeah, it's a great question, Danielle, because we've given you know, there's the power, we give them the power to the customer in and that's the power of planning. So we've, we've we've encouraged our customers to pre-plan their holiday meal. And actually, that's what's what's happened. In fact, I was just talking with a team briefly to you coming on and people already purchased their turkeys. So they're bringing a lot of the the product forward. And whether it's whether it's a traditional holiday meal with you know, delicious sides, you know, green bean casserole, sweet potato casserole, potato au gratin, butternut squash, we're able to, we're able to provide for those, especially the non-perishable foods we're able to provide for those now. So we're seeing people actually purchasing and buying a lot of their products earlier in the season.

Danielle Prieur covers education in Central Florida.