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Butterball short on fresh turkeys, frozen still available

Tuesday - 11/19/2013, 6:36am  ET

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You may have to rethink your turkey options after Butterball announced a shortage of large-sized, fresh turkeys this year. (WTOP File)

WASHINGTON - If you're having a crowd for Thanksgiving and a fresh Butterball turkey is your usual choice, you may be forced to rethink your strategy.

There's a shortage of large-sized, fresh Butterball turkeys this year.

In a written statement, the company says it has "experienced a decline in weight gains on some of our farms causing a limited availability of large, fresh turkeys."

But Butterball is quick to point out that there are plenty of large, frozen turkeys -- small and medium ones too.

Despite the warning from Butterball, there's no panic at grocery chain, Giant.

"Giant has worked with Butterball in advance. So we've ordered our fresh turkeys well in advance," says Jamie Miller, spokesman for the grocer. "We're confident we'll be able to meet the demand for Butterballs," Miller says.

There's no shortage right now at Safeway either, according to spokesman Craig Muckle.

However, Muckle says there could be a "little impact" from the shortage.

Butterball advises that a frozen turkey can easily substitute for a large fresh one. Thaw the bird in the refrigerator for four hours per pound. Thawing can take three to five days.

According to Butterball's website, the Garner, N.C.,-based company is the largest producer of turkey products in the United States, accounting for 20 percent of the nation's turkey production.

For more turkey tips and techniques, cooks can call the company's "Turkey Talk- Line" at 1-800-Butterball.

Below is the full statement from Butterball.

Butterball and its retail partners have ample supply of frozen whole turkeys of all sizes - small, medium or large. While there may be limited availability on some larger sizes of fresh turkeys, Butterball has shipped 100 percent of customer orders of frozen whole turkeys and products are in distribution across the country. We experienced a decline in weight gains on some of our farms causing a limited availability of large, fresh turkeys. While we are continuing to evaluate all potential causes, we are working to remedy the issue. We sincerely regret the inconvenience that some of our customers have experienced as a result of this issue.

If consumers cannot find a Butterball fresh whole turkey in their desired size, they can purchase a Butterball frozen whole turkey for their Thanksgiving meal. Depending on the size of their turkey, it typically takes between three to five days to thaw; we suggest thawing in a refrigerator for four hours per every pound of turkey. Consumers can call Butterball's Turkey Talk-Line at 1-800-BUTTERBALL for proper thawing techniques.

As we have for nearly 60 years, Butterball strives to provide safe, high-quality products that meet the needs of our consumers and customers. We appreciate the continued patience, understanding and support as we work through this issue. Butterball expects to completely fulfill all customer orders of fresh whole turkeys for Christmas.

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