Diners will have plenty to gobble despite worries about turkey and pumpkin supplies

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) – Bird flu took a bite out of the turkey supply. Heavy rain washed out the pumpkin crop.

But Thanksgiving groceries likely won’t cost Americans much more than last year, and nobody should have to miss gobbling down their favorite holiday foods.

The holiday season always generates stories about some items being in short supply or dramatically pricier. But markets have a way of balancing themselves out, particularly around this meal.

So even though bird flu wiped out 8 million turkeys – driving production down and wholesale prices up – you’re in no danger missing out. These birds don’t play by the usual rules of supply and demand.

According to Richard Volpe, a former government food price economist, it’s because one of the most effective things grocers can do to lure holiday shoppers is offer cheap turkeys, even selling them at a loss.

Further shielding consumers is that most of the birds destined to grace Thanksgiving tables this year already were born, slaughtered and frozen before the outbreak. Frozen whole turkeys make up as much as three-quarters of the Thanksgiving market.

Record rains early in the growing season did slash pie-pumpkin yields by about 50 percent in Illinois, by far the country’s top producer. But market leader Libby’s still expects canned pumpkin supplies to last through Thanksgiving. And it says the shortage probably won’t be felt until after the holiday baking season.

(Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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