Experts advise Americans to plan ahead, shop early for holiday meals amid supply chain shortage

The rush is on to get ready for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Unfortunately, toys aren’t the only items that may be in short supply this year.

In a FOX 32 Special Report, we look at what challenges consumers will face trying to get a holiday dinner on the table.

"The number one thing people need to know about this Thanksgiving and this holiday season when it comes to grocery shopping, it’s going to cost more," said food analyst Phil Lempert.

Lempert is also known as the "supermarket guru." He says shortages are being seen in two main areas.

"Number one, any food product that is labor intensive. Meat processing or poultry processing. Even turkeys for Thanksgiving," he said. "Number two, has to do with packaging. The price of aluminum has gone up 11 percent."

So not only will smaller sized, fresh turkeys be in short supply but something else you might not expect is this.

"Those products that are in aluminum, such as our sodas and our beers, they are going to be in short supply as well," Lempert said.

Things don’t look much better for dinner on Christmas or New Year’s Eve.

"What we are going to see throughout the rest of the year and probably even in to New Year’s is anything that’s animal based, talking about milk, butter, eggs, egg nog, pork, beef, turkey," Lempert said. "Those are going to be higher priced."

So you may have to think a little outside the box when planning this year's main course.

"You can always use turkey pieces. Like turkey breast or drumsticks. And then pairing it with another protein like a pork roast or prime rib," said Julie Sanfilippo, registered dietician at Edward-Elmhurst Health. "That way everybody gets a little bit of turkey and it still feels like Thanksgiving."

What about the stuffing and the rest of the meal?

"If you remember, early in the pandemic people were buying bread makers because they couldn’t find bread on the shelves," Lempert said. "It might also be time to break out that bread making machine and start making your own bread crumbs.


When it comes to canned cranberries or pumpkin, Lempert says we will probably see prices increase but no shortages since they are packed a year in advance.

The tricky part will be buying fresh produce, like green beans or spinach.

"Most of the produce in the country does come from California," Lempert said. "We’ve had major climate problems in California. Whether it’s flooding in some cases or the fires in other cases."

That means there probably won’t be much U.S. grown produce to choose from and it’s going to cost more.

"We are going to see a plentiful supply of imported produce," Lempert said. "You want to read those labels and you want to find out country of origin that produce is coming from."

Lempert says that’s because the U.S. is the strictest when it comes to food safety issues.

So what's your produce back-up plan?

"It’s probably a good idea now to stock up on canned and frozen goods so you can get a head of that," Sanfilippo said.

Of course, you can’t forget dessert. That also comes with its own sticker shock.

"I’ve seen ranges for sugar increases from about 5 percent to about 20 percent," Lempert said. "It really depends on where you are in the country, how much your retailer has pre-bought."

Both experts that FOX 32 talked to recommend planning ahead and shopping early for your holiday meals.