Butterball has shortage of fresh large turkeys

The nation’s largest turkey producer said it was facing a shortage of fresh large birds weeks before Thanksgiving.

Butterball said its poultry had trouble gaining weight on some of its farms, but did not explain why.

The company still has ample supplies of its frozen large varieties, which are birds 16 pounds and heavier.

“We experienced a decline in weight gains on some of our farms causing a limited availability of large, fresh turkeys,” Stephanie Llorente, a spokeswoman for Butterball, said in a written statement Friday. “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.”

Headquartered in Garner, N.C., Butterball produces 1 billion pounds of turkey every year, equal to 20 percent of the nation’s production. The ubiquitous brand, known for its blue, gold and yellow label, is a mainstay in American kitchens every Thanksgiving.

Big Y Foods Inc., an East Coast supermarket chain, said orders of fresh large Butterball turkeys had been cut by 50 percent nationwide.

A spokeswoman for Ralphs said Butterball had informed the grocer of the shortage. She said Ralphs had enough supplies of whole turkeys through Butterball and other brands.

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