And with fewer people around the dining room table, sales of the holiday staple, turkey, are down from a year ago.
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Due to the pandemic, turkey production has fallen by about 8% across Canada.
In Quebec, the lack of sales resulted in losses totaling $ 5.4 million, according to the Producers avicoles du Quebec.
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Thanksgiving is the second-largest event after Christmas of the year for the turkey industry, accounting for about 39% of all sales.
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“Sales were down before the pandemic, and then after, they got worse,” said poultry farmer Joel Leblanc.
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Leblanc says he has felt the effects of the pandemic on the market.
“With the closing of bars and restaurants, sales are down,” Leblanc said.
Luckily, Leblanc says he doesn’t depend solely on turkey sales, the majority of his business being chickens.
He hopes his farm can weather the storm, however, and expects sales to stabilize slowly.
Smaller turkeys, quieter gatherings – How the coronavirus is changing Thanksgiving in Canada
Quebec poultry farmers say that in 2020, six million kilograms of whole turkeys were sold in March and April, an amount similar to previous years, despite the absence of large gatherings due to COVID 19.
However, they have noticed a change in what is served on the plates.
“The 20-pound turkey is not necessary this year,” said spokesperson Stéphane Barnabé.
Smaller turkeys and cups are desired with fewer mouths to feed, according to Barnabas.
“Production has adapted in recent months to offer smaller whole turkeys and more cuts to the grocery store (breasts, roasts, thighs),” he said.
In light of this trend, and with no end in sight to the pandemic, turkey farmers like Leblanc predict they will see similar buying habits this winter.
He says his 6,500 turkey chicks that should be ready for Christmas will likely be smaller as he adjusts to the new demand.
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