How sustainable farming impacts holiday shopping with turkeys for Thanksgiving and hams for Christmas

By Sara Sprenger

5 min read

November 9, 2021

For many Americans, turkeys, and Thanksgiving go hand in hand, just like Christmas and hams. But over the last few years, the holiday table has looked different for many consumers. From eating more plant-based food to more desire for sustainable products, U.S. shoppers have spent their dollars on non-traditional holiday dishes in recent years.


Data shows that 73% of all consumers are willing to change their consumption habits to reduce their environmental impact. Others (52%) believe plant-based foods make them feel healthier. At the same time, some opt for food that focuses on animal welfare and sustainability for ethical reasons as well.  No matter what, shoppers are more motivated than ever to choose products that represent their values. As the time of holiday cheer and dinner parties descends upon us, CPG brands and manufacturers need to take notice because they have an opportunity to capitalize on consumer shopping trends this season.

How sustainability impacts holiday shopping

All around the globe, people are reexamining what they’re putting in their physical and digital carts. Many consumers have prioritized buying products that dive into “selfless” or “altruistic” consumption to support environmental, ethical, or humanitarian causes. In fact, 34% of people say they’re more likely to buy products with sustainable attributes, labels, or credentials than they were two years ago to protect their health, family’s health, and the planet’s. Additionally, 72% report they’re willing to pay a premium for products that claim to be sustainable or socially responsible.

What does that all mean for holiday shopping specifically, though?

Simply put: They’re buying different products, items, and ingredients than in past years. They want to determine whether the product they’re interested in is claiming social responsibility, sustainable farming, or animal-welfare attributes – aka the ones growing in popularity. As a result, they’re purchasing less meat and more alternative-protein sources. Even if they do buy meat, they’re opting for products that claim they’re “grass-fed” or “farm-raised” or “pastured-raised” on the packaging and in the listed ingredients.

This holiday season: turkeys for Thanksgiving and hams for Christmas

As noted, plant-based protein and sustainable trends are surging, and it will impact what a lot of families’ Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners look like. Some families will research the brands themselves, deciding to spend their dollars on socially responsible organizations or those whose farming and agriculture practices are more humane. Instead of having the typical bird or ham this season, some households may choose alternative options or might not even have meat altogether. For example, in the last year, Turtle Island Goods Inc, known for its Tofurky and alternative meat products, experienced $9.4 million dollars in sales. With holiday meal prep approaching and sustainability-linked consumer products growing faster than their counterparts, one can assume that sales will continue to increase.

When looking at the data, you see an obvious increase in the fresh and frozen meat alternative category compared to turkeys and hams. This specifically looks at the week over week sales in 2019 vs 2020, in a 6-week period (starting the week of November 14th and ending the week of December 21st.) While in some cases there are spikes for turkey and hams, there’s a positive increase every single week for the alternatives meats while in some weeks we actually saw a -29% decrease in turkey sales and a -43% decrease in hams.

Fresh Meatless Alternatives 

Frozen Meatless Alternatives 



Other meatless alternative brands that will likely see a kick in sales in the upcoming months due to Thanksgiving and Christmas sustainable shopping include:

  • Quron Turkey
  • Gardein
  • Boca
  • Morningstar Farms
  • Field Roast
  • Amy’s Kitchen
  • Lightlife
  • Sweet Life
  • Impossible Foods
  • Beyond Meat
  • Amy’s Kitchen

The opportunity for CPG manufacturers this holiday season

Seeing the trend in sustainable and plant-based foods may be surprising to some, but it’s not going away any time soon. Modern consumers want to purchase a product that aligns with their values as they shop in-store and online. Brands and manufacturers need to market and support a story that will resonate with sustainable shoppers this holiday season. 

How can brands do this, though? 

With the right tool, like Total Wellness, brands like yours can gain actionable insights on comprehensive product attribute data to understand consumer intent better.

With this, you can:

  • Find ways to incorporate attributes into imagery in-store and online
  • Determine which attributes to focus on
  • Identify any missed opportunities in sustainability and animal welfare 

and ultimately help your health and wellness shoppers have the Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners of their dreams.

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