NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

PortWatch

November 20, 2013

Butterball mystery: Turkeys wouldn't fatten up

(Continued)

Over at meat producer Cargill, spokesman Michael Martin says in an email that the company has never had a problem where its birds didn’t put on enough weight to produce an adequate supply of large turkeys.

Mark Kastel, founder of The Cornucopia Institute, a Wisconsin-based group that advocates for organic farming, noted that major poultry producers tightly control production factors, making Butterball’s shortage unusual.

“I thought that was very mysterious. I could not think of a rational explanation,” Kastel said, suggesting that a change in the feed formula may have been to blame.

Butterball declined to say whether the issue has been resolved or provide details on the extent of its shortage. But Big Y, a supermarket chain based in Springfield, Mass., said in a statement that it had been notified by the company that orders across the country were cut by 50 percent.

Butterball’s shortage shouldn’t be a problem for most since fresh turkeys only account for about 15 percent of sales, with frozen turkeys accounting for the rest. Butterball also makes only about one out of every five turkeys eaten on Thanksgiving.

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