On the eve of Thanksgiving on November 25, turkeys’ prices are 21% more expensive than they were last year, and the total cost of a party is up 14%.
Turkeys don’t fly very far. But the price of them and other Thanksgiving staples like cranberry sauce and toppings can soar. This holiday in the United States has not been inevitably meeting price inflation that is rampant in the economy due to strong consumer demand and labor shortages.
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American Farm Bureau Federation estimates a Thanksgiving feast for 10 people, with mashed sweet potatoes, vegetables, and a cake with whipped cream cost $53.31. It’s up 14% from the previous year. This is a dramatic increase. Before 2021, this cost has decreased every year since 2015.
“Inflation is real. Everyone says it and is feeling it,” said Jay Jandrain – President and CEO of Butterball. “Whether it’s the labor, the transportation, the packaging materials, the energy to fuel the factories. Everything costs more,” he added.
Butterball is based in North Carolina, which supplies about a third of the Thanksgiving turkey. The company struggled to attract workers earlier this year, leading to processing delays. Due to the lack of butchers, turkeys continue to be raised and grow that increasing feed costs.
To date, the labor shortage has eased and the company has been able to secure enough trucks to get the turkeys to the grocery stores. So there will be the same number of whole turkeys as last year, but smaller ones reduce. “The good news is that those who love Thanksgiving leftovers will have more this year,” says Jandrain, as most are forced to buy large turkeys.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the average wholesale price of a frozen turkey (8 to 16 pounds) in mid-November was $1.35 per pound. It’s up 21% from the same period in 2020. The weather also did prices of other staple food items escalate during the holiday season.
Pumpkin is less due to heavy rains and fungal diseases in Illinois – a leading supplier of this commodity, in addition to drought in California. In early November, fresh pumpkins cost an average of $2.72 per pound, up 5% from a year ago – according to Nielsen IQ. Chickpea prices rose 4% while canned cranberry sauce rose 2.5%.
Ryanne Bowyer of Dallas (Texas), often buys turkey a day or two after Thanksgiving to save money. But this year, he signed up for Ibotta, a shopping app to get free turkey, potatoes, corn, soup, gravy, and tortillas from Walmart. “If that doesn’t work, my plan is just to go to the woods to eat grilled sausages with my wife,” Bowyer joked.
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However, many retailers facing cost pressure should withdraw on regular Thanksgiving promotions. Mark Jordan, CEO of Leap Market Analytics, who tracks the livestock and poultry markets, said that in the week before Thanksgiving, the number of US stores offering special deals on turkeys was at the lowest level since 2017. “There will still have some discounts, but some of the big giveaways will be less,” Jordan said.
Diana Jepsen, a retiree from West Hartford (Connecticut), says that it’s common to pay a dollar for a pound of turkey during Thanksgiving. This year, a 23-pound Butterball turkey costs $1.50 per pound. But she still thinks it’s a good price compared to the price momentum of cows and chickens.
Jepsen will be celebrating Thanksgiving with 21 family members, including her 96-year-old mother. Her aunt’s Cuban-American family uses turkey with mojo criollo sauce. Jepsen’s husband, George Jepsen, a former Connecticut attorney general, cooks turkey according to his mother-in-law’s recipe. The other staples they use, including black beans and yucca, have not increased in price.