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A Disrupted Thanksgiving Leaves the Turkey Business Guessing



Cooks around the country are just starting to calculate menus and decide how many guests they can safely host for Thanksgiving. But for months, the people who grow and sell the centerpiece of the meal have been doing their own kind of turkey math.

Just how many whole turkeys will Americans cook this year for a holiday whose wings have been clipped by the pandemic?

“That’s the big question on the tip of everybody’s tongue,” said Stew Leonard Jr., who expects to sell 20 percent fewer big turkeys at the seven stores his family owns in the Northeast.

All indications are that the holiday gatherings that used to bring together dozens of people to share one or two turkeys will be scuttled in favor of smaller celebrations. That could lead to a run on small turkeys, a higher-than-usual demand for parts like whole breasts, and higher prices across the board. And although no turkey farmer likes to hear this, some cooks may simply decide to go all in on a big chicken.

Nearly 70 percent of Americans plan to celebrate Thanksgiving differently this year, according to a consumer survey released last month by the Chicago-based market research firm Numerator. The revised plans are motivated in no small part by new guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that recommend skipping holiday travel and limiting Thanksgiving celebrations to people living in the same household.

Consumer research from both Butterball and Hormel Foods, which together sell most of the more than 40 million whole turkeys that are eaten for Thanksgiving, suggests that big gatherings will be broken into several smaller ones, most of which will still center on turkey. A third of the respondents to the Butterball survey said they were considering serving dinner outdoors, and the number of people who plan to host only their immediate family has jumped to 30 percent, from 18 percent last year.

ImageStew Leonard’s is ordering fewer big turkeys and more small birds this year.
Credit…Joel Barhamand for The New York Times

Kroger executives are closely studying their own data, which show 43 percent of their shoppers will limit Thanksgiving to only the people already in their households.

“It’s really the size of the celebrations that has changed,” said Joel Brandenberger, president of the National Turkey Federation. “How that translates to the size of the bird people want is something we are a little less clear on.”

The calculations are tricky. Contracts to buy the baby turkeys called poults are often written a year in advance, and growing those poults to the proper size for the market takes months. Even if farmers wanted to raise smaller turkeys, it’s not that easy. Genetics, coupled with economically driven feed formulas, produce birds that mature at a predetermined size in a set amount of time.

“It’s not an industry in which you can quickly pivot,” said John Peterson, whose family has owned the 140-acre Ferndale Market in Cannon Falls, Minn., for 80 years. “For us to have any meaningful impact on changing anything for Thanksgiving, those decisions had to be made in March or April.”

Mr. Peterson is president of the turkey research and promotion council for Minnesota, the nation’s top turkey-producing state. About a quarter of the 160,000 turkeys he will grow this year will be sold for the holidays. He is doing what he can to keep the turkeys small, like slaughtering some earlier than he might in a normal year.

Cody Hopkins runs a livestock cooperative of 40 farms mostly in Arkansas, Mississippi and Missouri that will ship out about 3,000 broad-breasted whites — by far the most common American breed — that have been raised on pasture. He is making similar tweaks to his flock.

Because the cooperative sells directly to families and isn’t locked into a supermarket chain’s schedule, farmers have been able to move processing timelines in an attempt to produce smaller birds, he said. The co-op also is also planning to sell more turkey wings and breasts.

“We’re talking about doing some bigger chickens, too, to give people options,” Mr. Hopkins said.

The pivot is harder for the nation’s largest producers of whole turkeys, who are wrestling with both the health and the economic realities of Covid-19. The virus charged through some poultry packing plants at alarming rates, forcing temporary closings and a call for improved working conditions.

Beyond the whole-bird trade, the turkey business has been hurting. Although grocery store sales are up, coronavirus lockdowns have crushed the market for sliced turkey at sub shops, college cafeterias and catered events. In July, Butterball reported losing $27 million in the second quarter of year.

Credit…Jenn Ackerman for The New York Times

Still, the sellers of whole turkeys are optimistic. Mr. Leonard has increased his order for birds that weight less than 16 pounds by 20 percent, and will add more individual turkey breasts to the mix. Instead of setting up most of his packaged Thanksgiving dinners for eight people, he is increasing the packages for four.

He expects good sales overall. “Nobody’s going to skip Thanksgiving,” he said.

And shoppers, take note: Inexpensive supermarket birds, which serve as enticements called loss leaders, might be harder to find, poultry analysts say.

“We could actually see something of a run on turkeys,” said Mark Jordon, the executive director of Leap Market Analytics, in Arkansas, who studies the turkey market.

But that’s not a sure bet. With unemployment at record levels, many households have tighter budgets and will likely spend less this year on Thanksgiving, some research shows.

Waste, too, is top of mind. After seven months of taking their kitchens through the paces, many cooks are much more mindful of food waste. The thought of a whole turkey for only a few guests might not make sense, said Dasha Shor, a registered dietitian and food analyst who specializes in meat and meat alternatives for Mintel, a global market research company.

“There is almost this perfect storm for the whole bird,” she said. “The silver lining is that people are actually interested in cooking. Almost half of consumers want to cook at home, and get better at it.”

As a result, she predicted, more people than ever before will be trying to replicate the Thanksgiving dinner they grew up eating.

“I can see more young consumers for the first time in their lives hosting a small Thanksgiving at home, and trying to roast their first turkey,” she said.

The marketing team at Jennie-O, based in Minnesota, are preparing for a flood of first-time turkey cooks by promoting a whole turkey specifically processed to go straight from the freezer to the oven. They’ve also designed a media campaign based on smaller gatherings where less turkey will be consumed.

“Our messaging needs to be that no matter what size bird you get, there are great leftover recipes,” said Nicole Behne, vice president of marketing for the brand.

Credit…Danielle Scruggs for The New York Times

Leftover recipes and food storage tips also will be a bigger focus this year at Butterball, where research indicates that only a quarter of all consumers plan to buy smaller turkeys than usual. At its Turkey Talk-Line, which opens on Nov. 2, experts are gearing up to answer what is expected to be a flood of calls from novice hosts. (For the first time in its 39-year history, the talk-line experts will be taking calls remotely rather than from the Butterball call center and test kitchen in an office near Chicago.)

Still, no one can really foretell what the American appetite for whole turkeys will be this year, or whether the desire to be together with the people who always come to Thanksgiving will outweigh concerns about Covid.

The uncertainty is not unlike the upcoming presidential election, said Ms. Shor, the analyst from Mintel. “I’m on pins and needles about both.”


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Money is love too: 5 lessons from immigrants to manage your wallet



October 24, 2020 5 min read

This article was translated from our Spanish edition using AI technologies. Errors may exist due to this process.

Adina Chelminsky’s grandfather left Poland when he was just 13 years old and unable to speak a single word of Spanish. However, when he arrived at the port of Minatitlán in Veracruz, he had no money, but he began to work tirelessly until he managed to open a tlapalería that, believe it or not, continues to operate in Corregidora in Mexico City.

“The most important thing I know about finances I learned from my immigrant grandparents who came to Mexico with nothing,” said Chelminsky in her participation in MoneyFest 2020 . “My grandfather was a true entrepreneur because he knew that entrepreneurship was 50% sweat and not just having a ‘millionaire’ idea”.

Adina Chelminsky is not only an accomplished economist and entrepreneur, she is also the author of the popular finance book Cabrona y Millonaria . However, despite his academic training, he points out that the best lessons he has had on money management always come from immigrants ”.

“People like my grandparents who came to Mexico in search of opportunities understand better than anyone how to handle money in a crisis, because they know how to face adversity and prosper in a world they understand,” said the expert.

Image: Money Fest 2020

5 love lessons told with money

Adina’s two paternal grandparents, both immigrants, taught her five basic universal financial principles. “They not only left me with an unpronounceable last name [he says laughing], but also strategies that can be applied always and by everyone.”

1. There is no asset more valuable than education: Whether for one or the children, education is one of the smartest investments that can be made because it is a portable instrument that does not lose returns over time.

“When I was born, my grandfather opened an account for me to pay for a master’s degree. No BA, a MASTER’S DEGREE . This so that there would be no doubt about what I could achieve ”.

2. “Whoever has a store to attend to it”: And in the same way, whoever has savings and investments, keep an eye on them.

“My other grandfather was the smartest person to make investments because he was always informed. It taught me never to go into a business that I didn’t understand or to sign a contract that I hadn’t read.

3. Don’t screw your kids and plan your retirement: “My grandparents came to Mexico and they knew they wanted to die in it. At that time there were no Afores or retirement plans, but month after month they saved for that moment, even if it was at the cost of a luxury ”.

Adina pointed out that her grandparents always knew that they did not want to be a burden for their children when the time came and on the contrary, they always made an effort to have a dignified old age.

4. Finances are ALWAYS a family affair and especially a couple: Sometimes talking about money with your partner can unleash a pitched battle, but it is about being a team.

“There wasn’t a time when my grandmothers didn’t have a say in financial discussions because they ran the house. In those times, my grandparents had the last word, but they always decided between all of us ”, Adina recalls and points out that especially in times of crisis, her grandparents were precisely a COUPLE , partners.

“Today there is a lot of financial infidelity, individual debts, hidden problems and half truths. It makes me think that my grandparents were ahead of their time ”.

5. There is nothing more patriotic than building well-being for others: Adina’s grandparents lived committed to Mexico and providing jobs was always one of their most active priorities.

“As an immigrant you want to help the country that made you its own. There is nothing more patriotic than building well-being for others ”.

It doesn’t matter where we come from, Adina noted, whether from immigrants, born savers, born profligates, or parents who simply did what they could with what they had. “Learning from the past and the financial history that shaped us is essential to build your future.


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Learn to read the news to earn money



It seems that the economy is going crazy, but as an entrepreneur you must be aware of what is happening in the world. Journalist Isabella Cota tells us how to understand those numbers and trends that we see every day.

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October 24, 2020 4 min read

This article was translated from our Spanish edition using AI technologies. Errors may exist due to this process.

“Where were you when you realized that the pandemic was going to change your life?”

For Isabella Cota , a journalist specializing in macroeconomic issues, that moment of cold drop came when she was attending a wedding at the end of February and a friend involved in the health industry told her that at some point in the year the stock markets were going to collapse, large amounts of infections would occur and that, if the government did not act soon, a health crisis like no other would occur.

Just a few days later, the National Healthy Distance Day would begin, which practically stopped the country’s non-essential economic activity.

Perhaps the force of the spread of COVID-19 took many by surprise, but Cota asserts that “many people who were used to reading the news saw the pandemic coming and were able to take protective measures even before the authorities.”

For the journalist, information is the best tool that people can access for free to make critical decisions for their health and finances.

“If you want to invest your money well, you have to understand money and for that, you have to read news about economy, finance and yes, science,” said the expert in her participation in the virtual MoneyFest festival.

However, in Mexico we have a stigma with numbers and it is the job of the media to explain to the reader how economic news affects their daily life.

“If the medium does not land that information, it is the MEDIA that is failing the public, not the other way around.”

Image: MoneyFest 2020

How to read the news to help you earn more money

Isabella Cota gives us a three-point checklist to consume financial news to make better decisions.

1. “Cure your fright” with curiosity: You have to ask yourself questions, but don’t panic. “If there is something that the pandemic has given us all, it is fear. Fear of getting infected, losing a job, saying goodbye to a loved one, etc. ”, says Cota. “We must approach the information without fear and not let ourselves be carried away by alarmist news.”

Given this, it is drastic to remember that the headlines do not report and you have to look for different sources.

2. Google is your friend: “The media are like great libraries of stories,” says Isabella. “Before making any financial decision, you have to ask Google what the media says about a brand or investment opportunity that they advertise, what information the bank can ask you by law, what are your rights before collectors, etc.”

3. You don’t have to believe everything: One of the most unfortunate effects of the pandemic has been the spread of false information that is sold as news and is not. “A study says that there are already 800 people in the world who die because of the fake news about the coronavirus.”

So how can we identify real news?

Isabella offers this “accordion” to quickly identify credible information:

  • When the notes or links come without a real or reputable source, do not open them .
  • If the information comes from a medium that you don’t recognize, don’t read it .
  • Finally, if what the article says does not seem true or reasonable, do not share it .

“The media fails, but they also offer fascinating stories. These stories are important and they teach us something. The information that is consumed with calm, curiosity and an open mind, is the best tool for our money ”, concludes Cota.


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The world has already changed: How to design a new professional and personal reality



Silvia Singer, general director of the Interactive Museum of Economics, gives us the keys to transform ourselves into this new normal that, like it or not, is here to stay.

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October 24, 2020 4 min read

This article was translated from our Spanish edition using AI technologies. Errors may exist due to this process.

“The world stopped and I feel so bad that I don’t want to talk to anyone. It’s a feeling that we’ve all had in the last few months, ”said Silvia Singer , in her talk at Money Fest , Mexico’s interactive personal finance festival. “However, if there is a crisis, I am sure there must be an opportunity.”

With this phrase, general director of the Interactive Museum of Economics (MIDE) , told us that this is the time to make a change to face the new normal.

“Every museum is due to its public, but what happens when people cannot go?” This was the challenge that MIDE faced in March when Sana Distancia measures began to stop the spread of COVID-19 .

“We had to acknowledge that there was a crisis that was going to last, we needed to make changes and restart,” Singer explained when presenting how MIDE had to transform its strategy to focus on the digital public. “Now the museum is beyond Tacuba 17 in Mexico City; now it is for anyone inside and outside of Mexico who understands Spanish ”.

The MIDE has already opened its doors, but this digital strategy allowed them to transform.

In this regard, Silvia gave us the strategy to replicate the success of the MIDE in our businesses.

Image: MoneyFest 2020

How can we design a new professional and personal reality?

Pablo Picasso used to say that when the muse of inspiration visits you, she has to find you working.

“Entrepreneurship is a creative and at the same time critical act. There are no magic formulas to transform and there are many paths. Which is the best? Yours ”, indicated the general director of MIDE.
To generate your own strategy, according to the expert, it is required:

Being able to observe the environment: “First of all, you have to see the opportunities that are outside, understand what is happening and identify what things or situations require a different solution that works better in this new normal.”

Understand that change is constant: “It sounds obvious, but you have to remain agile and have an open mind to innovate.”

How I reinvent myself

Silvia Singer pointed out that you have to learn to think with a certain structure in order to transform yourself. A simple model that you can follow in your person and your business is:

1. Think about something that you have dreamed and imagined, but with some alternatives on how to achieve it: “I need a clear objective, to know where I want to go and what alternatives I have.”
2. Write down these alternatives honestly in a notebook with the advantages and disadvantages of each one: “Find realistic dreams with goals within reach and agree to be flexible in the method to achieve them.”

3. Be informed to be able to choose an alternative and take the step: “In order to be successful, you must be yourself, but reflect on what you can improve.”
4. Commit to what you have chosen and move on: “We all have huge desires, but our resources are limited. So you have to make a decision and commit to it ”.

In the end, the MIDE director gave great advice for all entrepreneurs who are looking to transform themselves: “You don’t have to suffer the process, you have to enjoy it. I’m sure that in the end everything will be fine ”.


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