LAC LA BICHE - The COVID pandemic has reduced many things in the global marketplace, and Lac La Biche grocer Bill Britton says turkeys are no exception.
With Thanksgiving menus increasing the demand for the holiday bird, the Britton's Your Independent Grocery Store owner said that while the number of turkeys coming to store freezers weren't affected, the sizes of the birds have seen reductions.
"Anything nine kilograms and up have been few and far between," said Britton when asked if the pandemic had affected recent stock. "Just those large birds, everything else seems to be OK right now."
With an average pre-Thanksgiving store order of about 500 turkeys, Britton said all of them were either between three and five kilograms or five and seven kilograms this year.
And the size of the turkeys isn't the only issue facing grocers like Britton this year. Determining the number of turkeys to order has been tricky too.
"Last year with the COVID regulations, people weren't supposed to be gathering — even families weren't supposed to visit each other — so we thought there would be less turkeys for less dinners ... but we still sold a ton of turkeys."
In fact, the Brittons store, like other grocers, sold out of the birds as customers gobbled them up.
"This year we took that into consideration," he said, confident their stock should hold out.
Despite worries from other growing areas about some fruits and vegetables — due to droughts, fires, floods and the pandemic — Britton says other staples of a big family dinner are fully stocked on store shelves.
"Pumpkins, sweet potatoes, vegetables ... we are in business with all that," he said, explaining that the autumn holiday has brought a bit of excitement to shoppers and the community after more than a year of uncertainty.
"You can see it this year. People are more prepared for the holiday than last year," he said. "Last year none of us knew what to expect."
Talking turkey on prices
While the size of turkeys dropped this year, one thing the grocery store owner says customers can expect to see increase in the coming weeks is the price of food.
"We're seeing it and feeling it now. We're seeing all commodities have increased," he said, explaining that most businesses have been fighting the increases for quite some time. "It's not just for us with food, I think it's everywhere now — commodity costs have increased to a point where we all are feeling it."
For now, however, Britton says he hopes community members stay healthy and continue to help each other.
"We need to keep that Thanksgiving feeling going after the holiday as well."