MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Thanksgiving is one month away and many families are making plans for a different type of celebration this year.

“It’s just always been a very come one come all holiday,” Malory Vague, from Edina, said.

Vague’s tradition of a very large Thanksgiving with family and friends will be different this year. The table will include five immediate family members only.

“We did a Zoom call for Easter so hopefully we’ll do the same thing for Thanksgiving,” she said.  “Not the same but at least you can chat.”

Consumer research shows nearly 70% of Americans plan to spend Thanksgiving differently this year.

While grocery stores typically put in Thanksgiving orders earlier in the year, Minnesota’s turkey farmers had to pivot in September when it became clear COVID was changing Thanksgiving.

Minnesota has the largest number of independent turkey growers in the country.

“We’re caught between two kinds of markets,” Minnesota Turkey Growers Association executive director Sarah Anderson said.

The state’s Turkey Growers association says some farmers will harvest turkeys early to meet the demand for smaller birds, but there is still demand for large ones.

“We have to make sure we’re providing smaller birds but because consumers are cooking more they are also looking at more of a long term situation and so they’re okay with having leftovers too,” Anderson said.  “So we have to fill the void of large bird too,” she said.

While a farmer gets a lower processing rate for a smaller bird compared to a larger one, farmers are hopeful that this Thanksgiving could mean the sale of more turkeys in quantity as families celebrate in smaller groups.

“I think overall the purchase and consumption of turkey I think will be very similar,” Minnesota Turkey Growers president Paul Kvistad said.

“We’re just trying to figure out what works best for us and everyone’s situation and keeping everyone healthy,” Ashley Dito, from Prior Lake, said.

Kate Raddatz

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