The time for Americans to clean out some fridge space before Thanksgiving may have come a little early this year. Butterball, the USâ€™s top maker of Thanksgiving turkeys, is having some problems delivering the bigger birds to stores around the country.
The company told retailers that their orders for fresh turkeys 16 pounds (7.3 kg) and bigger have been cut by 50%, according to a press release from Big Y, a grocery chain in Massachusetts and Connecticut. Butterball, which produces around 20% of the USâ€™s turkeys and 1.3 billion pounds of turkey meat a year, has confirmed in a emailed statement that â€œthere may be limited availability on some larger sizes of fresh turkeysâ€ and that the shortage is nationwide.
This is a big worry because 16 pounds is the average weight of turkeys eaten at Thanksgiving, which 88% of US households celebrate, according to EatTurkey.com, an industry site. According to Butterballâ€™s handy calculator, a 16-pound turkey would feed a dinner party of six adults and six children.
Mind you, that doesnâ€™t mean thereâ€™ll be no big turkeys to be had. Itâ€™s only fresh turkeys from Butterball that are affected; the company sells frozen ones too, and there are several other manufacturers who will be only too delighted to fill the gap. But what might be more reason for panic than a turkey shortage is whatâ€™s causing it.
â€œWe experienced a decline in weight gains on some of our farms causing a limited availability of large, fresh turkeys,â€ said Butterballâ€™s statement. Translation: Its turkeys arenâ€™t growing as fast as they used to.
This is odd because the industry has cranked out steadily heavier turkeys with each passing year. In 2011, the average turkey weighed some 57% more than in 1965, according to the US Department of Agriculture. And though itâ€™s the most popular size, a 16-pound turkey isnâ€™t even that big. The birds raised for processing average 28 pounds.
Odder still, though, is that Butterball, the USâ€™s turkey-farming powerhouse, isnâ€™t sure why its birds stay svelter than usualâ€”or isnâ€™t yet saying. â€œWhile we are continuing to evaluate all potential causes, we are working to remedy the issue,â€ says the company.
The Economist has an interesting article on defense spending by GDP.
ON JUNE 8th China’s top military brass confirmed that the country’s first aircraft carrier, a refurbishment of an old Russian carrier, will be ready shortly. Only a handful of nations operate carriers, which are costly to build and maintain. Indeed, Britain has recently decommissioned its sole carrier because of budget pressures. China’s defence spending has risen by nearly 200% since 2001 to reach an estimated $119 billion in 2010â€”though it has remained fairly constant in terms of its share of GDP. America’s own budget crisis is prompting tough discussions about its defence spending, which, at nearly $700 billion, is bigger than that of the next 17 countries combined.
Itâ€™s not totally accurate as the Illustrious is being converted to a helicopter carrier and England is building the Queen Elizabeth class of aircraft carriers and the reality is that the Invincible class of aircraft carriers was at the end of itâ€™s life expectancy.
It is interesting that despite the outrage of how much Canada has been spending on defense lately, we still spend less than Australia, Brazil, and Italy among the largest military spenders. I was also surprised to see Turkey so high on the list and not not see Pakistan considering how much India spends.
Itâ€™s Thanksgiving around here and to celebrate it we had planned to spend it at the lake. That didnâ€™t work out so well as Lee got sick and needed a day to sleep it off and so we planned to go south today to the lake but then we heard of a massive snowfall warning. So we ditched Lee and we went to the cabin yesterday and spent a couple hours there and closed it up. Wendy blogged about the trip here and the highlight of the day was making some plans for next year with her. (Wendy also posted some of the cabins we used for inspiration for the deck) We may head up again in about 10 days when I have some vacation days but if it doesnâ€™t happen, we donâ€™t need to return to close up the cabin this winter.
Today Lee is feeling better and is coming over as we eat turkey together and give thanks that we are not snowed in at the lake. When the eating is done, we can warm up the guitar and the PlayStation and see who is the Guitar Hero in the house. Tomorrow I will do some more serious writing and posting here.