Grocers prepared for changes in Thanksgiving food traditions

Dorothy Lane Market sells 1,200 to 1,300 turkeys during the Thanksgiving holiday. Dorothy Lane Market Meat Manager, Mike Chrisman said that if you would like a smaller turkey this year, you need to shop soon. “Fifty percent of my orders are for smaller turkeys,” Chrisman added. JIM NOELKER
Dorothy Lane Market sells 1,200 to 1,300 turkeys during the Thanksgiving holiday. Dorothy Lane Market Meat Manager, Mike Chrisman said that if you would like a smaller turkey this year, you need to shop soon. “Fifty percent of my orders are for smaller turkeys,” Chrisman added. JIM NOELKER

Grocery stores are preparing for changes this holiday season, including more demand for smaller portions of Thanksgiving food traditions

“In light of the smaller gatherings, the demand will be greater for smaller turkeys and even turkey breasts,” said Jack Gridley, Dorothy Lane VP of Meat & Seafood. “We actually started preparing for this possibility in June with steps that we took with our flock,”

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“My advice for a family of four is that if you are going to cook a turkey, go for a medium sized one, 15 or 16 lbs, and you’ll have leftovers for days,” he said.

And it’s not just the turkey.

“I certainly think we will be very busy, but selling smaller portions, such as half pies instead of whole. We also cut our bread basket numbers by 60%, as they hold 24 rolls, but we’ve increased our 12-ct Bakehouse Rolls.” said Scott Fox, VP of Bakery & Coffee Bar.

The suppliers have responded to the shift. Steve Landes, the president of the family-owned Bowman and Landes turkey farm in New Carlisle, said that demand has stayed relatively consistent this year, but there has been a slightly greater demand for smaller birds this year than in the past.

“Having a good supply of smaller birds has helped us this year. They are definitely in demand. We expect to be sold out of our smaller sizes. It is not typically what happens,” he said.

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Grocery stores are also adapting to more shoppers who want to grab their orders without stepping into stores.

For the Thanksgiving holiday, an Oracle Grocery Retail survey posted Nov. 20 found 21% of consumers plan to order groceries online, and 59% plan to head into the store.

“Online grocery ordering is not new, but the pandemic was the tipping point to take it mainstream,” said Mike Webster, senior vice president and general manager, Oracle Retail.

Walmart’s Senior Vice President Tom Ward said in a Nov. 17 blog post that they are doubling the number of personal shoppers versus last year, bumping up to 157,000 associates.

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“Given customers’ lives were busier even before COVID-19, roles like the personal shopper will continue to be important parts of our business,” he wrote. “We’re excited about the work they’re doing and the service they’ll provide to our customers, now and into the future.”

At Dorothy Lane, new this year in light of the pandemic, along with the products in the meat department, they are also having an outdoor turkey to-go station for customers if they want to pick up and pay for those items without entering the store. It’ll be set up at each store 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Nov. 24 and Nov. 25 with reservations taken at www.DorothyLane.com/RSVP. At DLM Springboro and Washington Square, it’ll be walk-up outdoor station. At DLM Oakwood, it’ll be a drive-thru.

Dorothy Lane is encouraging shoppers to get their nonperishables now and is temporarily reverting hours to 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. hours for Nov. 20 to 25.

A Kroger spokeswoman said “My best advice for shoppers is to shop for their needs. Our supply pipeline remains strong and we encourage our customers to avoid stockpiling.”

Reporter Hasan Karim contributed to this report.

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