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No tree, pricey turkey: how supply and demand could impact your holidays

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Expect to see the price of some Christmas staples rise as supply and demand hit Canadians this holiday season. 

In Alberta, trees are currently facing a small shortage. They're out there -- but it may take some extra searching to find what you're looking for. 

"The demand for natural Christmas trees has been on the rise since 2015," Canadian Christmas Tree Association's Larry Downey said. "And at the same time, in agriculture in general, there's less people doing produce across Canada."

That's resulted in crops that aren't yet mature enough to sell and a shortage of larger variations. 

Those Calgary lots who have supply are seeing business boom. 

"I have my own private cutters and growers, so it's been OK for me," seller David Skene told CTV News. "But some competitors are in tough."

Skene believes the issue can be traced back to 2008. During the recession, he says it was too expensive to start a tree farm, and hard to find workers for those who had established property. 

That resulted in a huge dip in inventory: Statistics Canada numbers show total area of Christmas tree farms across the country dropped by nearly 20,000 acres between 2011 and 2021.

"It's not so appealing to the next generation," Downey said. "And the trees will grow about a foot a year, so it will take the established growers and we'll have to wait a few more years to catch up."

He recommends a purchasing a younger tree in the future. 

"Smaller trees, they're not as old, so it doesn't take as much time or as much room in the field," Downey said. "It's easy for growers to supply the demand when there's more orders for small things."

TURKEY TROUBLES 

And it's not just trees. Turkeys are a hot commodity in 2022, too. 

"We may actually run short by the time we get to the holidays," agri-food expert Sylvain Charlebois said. "It's the big problem this year because of the avian flu. We've lost several million birds."

Prices have increased from between $1 and $2 a pound a decade ago to between $4 and $5 this year. 

A Thanksgiving dinner is pictured on Oct. 14, 2016. (AP Photo/Bree Fowler) 

"People may move over and buy pork instead," Charlebois speculated, "because it's cheap right now." 

Across Western Canada, where the problem is most pronounced, some are predicting a 20 per cent drop in available turkeys.

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