Frugal shoppers may still long for the Thanksgiving of nine years ago, when local turkey prices at Thanksgiving were as low as 38 to 40 cents a pound at Cub and Walmart, respectively. In 2011, Cub still maintained the lowest price at 48 cents a pound. But those were recessionary times.
Fast forward to Thanksgiving 2017. The economy has picked up and so have prices. The lowest price I found is 79 cents a pound for Cub's private label Essential Everyday turkey (with coupon) or Target's Market Pantry turkey (offer now expired at Target). Walmart's Jennie-O turkey is 88 cents a pound. Most supermarkets are selling conventional turkeys for 99 to 1.79 cents per pound this year.
Prices this season on organic turkeys range from $2.89 to $4.99 per pound locally. Twin Cities turkey fans can satisfy their desire to eat organic and buy local. Owatonna, Minn. farmer Larry Schultz supplies many Twin Cities' supermarkets and co-ops with organic turkeys.
It isn't Whole Foods, now owned by Amazon, that has the lowest price on Schultz' organic turkeys this year. It's Aldi, the no frills supermarket chain from Germany, that brought in Schultz' turkeys this year for $2.89/lb., the lowest in the Twin Cities on any organic turkey in our price checks. Even Whole Foods, which is discounting the Schultz turkey 50 cents a pound for its Prime members, is at $2.99/lb. It's $3.49 a pound for non-Prime members.
Aldi, which has been testing an organic meat selection in this market, brought in a small number of the Schultz turkeys per store. According to Aldi, each store got 1 to 6 cases per store with four turkeys per case. The Owatonna store only received one case while the Richfield store, which received more, sold out on the first day. As of Monday, nearly all of the stores were sold out "I would anticipate carrying them again next year due to the strong demand," said Matt Lilla, Aldi's regional vice-president.
Other local prices for the Schultz turkeys: Mississippi Market ($3.49/lb.), Fresh & Natural ($3.79/lb.), Kowalski's, Lunds & Byerly's. the Wedge and Valley Natural Foods were all $3.99/lb.
Cub and Fresh Thyme are selling an organic turkey raised outside of Minnesota for $2.99/lb. Hy-Vee is selling one for $4.29/lb. Representatives at Target and Walmart said they were not selling organic turkeys this year.
Whether you choose a conventional turkey for about $1 a pound or an organic one for $3 a pound, consumers may not realize how reasonable the price is. Wholesale turkey prices in late September were about $1 a pound, according to the United States Dept. of Agriculture. The average markup in November is about 13 percent. Anyone who paid less than $1.13 per pound for a conventional turkey bought a loss leader, but the retailer hopes to make more profit on other incidentals you may have purchased.
The cost of raising a turkey organically in a pasture is much more expensive due to higher initial costs for baby turkeys (poults), higher food costs, and higher processing costs, Still, the prices of organic, free-range turkeys used to run as high as $6/lb. a few years ago. As predicted, prices have come down.
If you haven't purchased your turkey yet, supplies are dwindling, especially for organics. Best bets on availability will be for larger conventional turkeys over 15 pounds and smaller ones under 10 pounds. The organic turkeys are likely gone, especially in smaller sizes. Since organic turkeys are more expensive (a 10 lb. organic turkey costs more than $30 compared to less than $10 for conventional).Call to check stock before heading out and ask to have one put on hold if necessary.
Safe travels, happy Thanksgiving.