Traditional Whole Turkeys Not the Only Option This Thanksgiving

Turkey, the busy lives of Americans today, as well as the movement towards Thanksgiving being a consumer-driven holiday, it isn’t surprising that the traditional golden-brown, 20-pound turkeys are not the most important aspect of Thanksgiving dinner anymore. Families are branching out and purchasing new alternatives to the beautiful bird.

It breaks from tradition to think of anything other than the entire picturesque bird for Thanksgiving, but different families sometimes prefer different options and their corresponding conveniences. In a recent report by publisher Packaged Facts, Meat and Poultry Trends in the U.S., data was analyzed about the turkey-purchasing behaviors of different family dynamics in the United States. The turkey options that were the main focus of this report include: Fresh Whole Turkey, Fresh Breast of Turkey, Frozen Turkey (not stuffed), Frozen Breast of Turkey, and Fresh Turkey Parts.

The demographic focus surveyed for each turkey option was based on 25,000 households, with a base index of 100. The demographics most likely to purchase each turkey option are as follows:

  • Fresh Whole Turkey – New England, index 149
  • Fresh Breast of Turkey – Black or African American, index 137
  • Frozen Turkey, not stuffed – Five or More Children in Household, index 141
  • Frozen Breast of Turkey – Black or African American, index 142
  • Fresh Turkey Parts – Five or More Children in Household, index 153

The traditional fresh whole turkey is most popular in New England, with 49% of people living in that region more likely to purchase an entire turkey. This might be because Thanksgiving was born in this region or because families in that area are more likely to have higher incomes.

The least popular form of turkey is fresh breast of turkey, which had a high index among African American households; but, overall was very low compared to other turkey options. It was, however, high for Protective Services and Food Preparation industries.

The frozen turkey, not stuffed, is popular among households with five or more children, African American households, and for consumers aged 18-34. And, frozen breast of turkey is most popular among African Americans, and metropolitan Chicago. Overall, frozen turkey has gained popularity, possibly because people are learning how easy it is to cook and prepare a frozen turkey.

Fresh turkey parts can include: breast, drums, necks, thighs, and wings. There isn’t a specific ethnic group that prefers purchasing fresh turkey parts. But, overall, households with five or more children had the highest index, but households with income under $25,000 were average while demographics age 35-64 were above average for purchases.

With all the different options of turkeys this Thanksgiving, it’s not surprising that none of the options went above a 30% penetration level.  Fresh whole turkeys had the highest penetration at 27.7%, but that isn’t significantly high.

With these six turkey options all lacking a huge chunk of the poultry market share and resulting in demanded diversity, it’s clear that grocery and food retail stores need to keep different options in stock in the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving.

To learn more about turkey sales trends, check out Packaged Facts' report:

Meat and Poultry Trends in the U.S.

Thanks for reading!

Caitlin Stewart
Marketing Associate


Topics: Food & Beverage Packaged Facts Holiday