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Saturday August 13th, 2022 5:02AM

Grocery store official: start shopping now for Thanksgiving meal

By Austin Eller News Director

An official with Quality Foods, a local grocery store chain based out of Commerce, is recommending consumers purchase any key Thanksgiving meal items now to avoid supply chain issues closer to the holiday.

Warren Brown, vice president of operations with Quality Foods, said in previous years, consumers have traditionally purchased important perishable items closer to Thanksgiving Day, but not in 2021. He said people have been buying turkey, ham and other food items much earlier in the days leading to Thanksgiving.

“If you’re out there, go ahead and shop early, I mean don’t take that chance if you’re not going to be able to get the item,” Brown said. “We had a situation last week, we were able to get Ocean Spray cranberry sauce but we couldn’t get our private label. Then a couple days later we were able to get private label but we couldn’t get Ocean Spray.”

Brown said Quality Foods is even beginning to experience a shortage in chitterlings, another important Thanksgiving dish in the south.

“There are no chitterlings really to amount to anything, we were able to get 100 cases the other week for our eight stores and they were gone that day or day and a half,” Brown said. “The problem goes back to the slaughterhouses were shorthanded people during COVID, and they are still shorthanded, and they don’t have the manpower to process chitterlings, so they are just throwing them out.”

While turkeys are available this year, you will probably find that they are more expensive, according to Brown.

“The cost on a frozen turkey is $1.43 [a pound] this year, it was like $1.12 last year. Fresh turkeys are $1.73, so when you see somebody out there selling them at 49 cents a pound, they’ve got a pretty good loss there,” Brown said.

Turkey breasts in particular are a different issue, according to Brown.

“Basic turkey breast costs us 98 cents [a pound] and we booked them early for the holidays … we reached out to get some more, but those will cost $1.38,” Brown said. “They pretty much say there will be no turkey breast at Christmas time except for frozen Butterball, and they are going to be over two dollars a pound.”

Quality Foods has sold large quantities of turkey breasts so far this fall, which Brown believes is due to the higher cost of a whole turkey.

When it comes to food shopping for the winter holidays, Brown said it is possible grocery stores will have more limited product than they do ahead of Thanksgiving.

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