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Popular North Texas BBQ joint takes turkey off menu as costs rise

WFAA-TV Dallas-Ft. Worth 9/7/2022 Ariel Plasencia

Travis Heim says he’s taken turkey off the menu at Heim BBQ.

“For the last month, we haven’t been making money with turkey,” Heim said.

The problem? Turkey is just too expensive to buy right now.

“We’re paying almost, close to $2/pound more than we pay for our prime grade, certified angus brisket,” Heim said. “So just crazy.”

On average, grocery store shoppers are paying $1.30 more per pound for fresh bone-in split turkey breasts this year compared to last year, USDA data shows.

Turkey supply is also low due to a reported bird flu outbreak.

“It came to that point where the distributor was going to increase our price again, which was already just sky high,” Heim said. “So it was like, we’re not going to make money on this. The last thing we want to do is increase our price for customers so we just took it off (the menu).”

Turkey off the menu in September is a tough pill to swallow.

But no smoked birds in November is crying fowl.

“We escaped the issue of not having turkeys,” Sam Greenberg of Greenberg Smoked Turkeys in Tyler said. “We didn't escape all the price increases though.

Greenberg said he placed his 2022 turkey order last November just to make sure they’d have enough birds for this year.

But due to other rising costs for items like bags, gloves, and aprons, Greenberg said they expect to charge 13% more for their birds this year.

“I don't have a second product to sell,” Greenberg said. “We sell smoked turkeys, and I don't have a plan B. So I’ve got to have turkeys.”

Heim BBQ does plan to sell turkeys for Thanksgiving this year, too. But Heim said he’s not exactly sure how many they’ll be able to get.

“We have a committed amount of turkeys that they say they’re going to give us but then it’s kind of like, maybe you’re going to get that. Maybe not,” Heim said. “So we’re looking at briskets, hams, just some alterative options. I think turkeys are going to be hard to come by in November.”

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