- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 26, 2002

The days leading up to Thanksgiving have sparked a turkey price war among area supermarkets.
Food stores in the area have slashed more than 50 percent from the price of turkey, are offering low-price guarantees and are even selling fully cooked birds on the cheap. Furthermore, many stores are giving free turkeys to those with hefty grocery orders.
Supermarkets appear determined to go lower than the competition, even if only by a cent or two. Consider: A Manor House frozen turkey weighing 12 pounds or more from Safeway is advertised at 39 cents per pound but can be found at Food Lion and Shoppers Food Warehouse for 2 cents per pound less. To top that, Safeway lowered its price on the Manor House turkeys to 19 cents a pound beginning this week.
A fresh Shady Grove or Wampler turkey is advertised as 99 cents per pound at Safeway but 88 cents per pound at Giant. Frozen Butterball turkeys cost 99 cents a pound at both Giant and Safeway, but Safeway is also selling 10-pound, pre-cooked Butterball turkeys for $9.99.
The low prices on turkeys ensure supermarkets won't be making any money directly from the sale of Thanksgiving birds. The average price of a turkey is 93 cents per pound, or about 60 percent more than the lowest prices seen in the area this week, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation.
The stores said they hope increased sales of other Thanksgiving-related foods will recoup costs.
"Turkeys are the one item that everyone is shopping for," said Food Lion spokesman Jeff Lowrence. "They will look at turkeys to determine where to do their holiday shopping. It's a good item to run a special on."
Giant and Shoppers Food Warehouse both have low-price guarantees for turkeys. But consumers should read the fine print. Shoppers Food Warehouse, for instance, said in its most recent advertising circular that it "will not be undersold" but said it will match competitors low prices on Marval turkeys only. Giant said it will match all low prices but doesn't sell some of the cheapest turkey brands and will match prices only on frozen turkeys.
The low prices on turkeys at some supermarkets apply only to those customers who use store discount cards, such as the Giant BonusCard or Safeway Club card.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture said that last year two out of every three frozen turkeys sold during the year were sold on either Thanksgiving or Christmas holiday specials.
Prices of turkeys sold during November 2001 were half of what consumers paid for the same turkey the rest of the year.
An avian flu that killed 2.5 million turkeys throughout Virginia this year was expected to raise turkey prices. But those fears have proved to be unfounded, as poultry producers from other states geared up to meet demand.
Consumers buy 10 times as many turkeys in November as in any other month. Food Lion said it will sell 12.95 million pounds of turkey from its 1,225 stores this month, an average of more than five tons of turkey per store. At 37 cents a pound, that's almost $4.8 million in turkey revenue.


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