Craig Pallman took a gamble and it paid off.
Unsure of how the COVID-19 pandemic would affect this year’s turkey sales, Pallman, co-owner of Pallman Farms in Clarks Summit, decided to place the typical holiday order of about 9,000 turkeys and 2,000 neutered chickens months in advance.
“We took a risk and it looks like we will have a home for all of them,” he said. “When you’re dealing with a pandemic that changes by the minute it’s hard to forecast what will take place, but our flock looks fabulous and we haven’t run into any issues.”
Even though the farm has taken a hit during the pandemic due to rising prices throughout the industry, including feed for the turkeys, Pallman didn’t want to burden customers with added expenses.
“We took the position that a lot of people are hurting and we didn’t want to add to their pain by passing on some of the price increases,” he said. “We wanted to offer a sense of normalcy for the holiday season.”
While Pallman said the price of the Thanksgiving centerpiece won’t change much, the traditional large feast may be dialed back a bit this year.
He estimates usual gatherings of 30 might be cut down to about 18 to 20 after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released guidelines suggesting families limit the number of people at the holiday table.
Although nearly 70 percent of consumers are expected to celebrate Thanksgiving differently this year, according to a survey by the market research firm Numerator, Pallman hasn’t noticed many drastic changes.
“We have seen a slight uptick in the sale of smaller turkeys,” he said.
Pallman has been encouraged that many businesses are continuing to purchase turkeys through the farm as gifts for employees.
“This is our livelihood, so that has been a good sign,” he said. “It’s inspiring to all of us to see industry is still taking place during the pandemic.”
He believes many of the farm’s patrons have grown to trust the businesses direct to consumer sales and come back every year.
“We have a longstanding, dedicated customer base,” Pallman said. “The demand seems to be on pace with previous years.”