Consumers will need to dig a bit deeper into their pocketbooks to pay for classic Thanksgiving food items this year. The American Farm Bureau’s 37th annual marketplace survey indicates a typical Thanksgiving feast for 10 would be $64.05, a 20% increase from last year’s average of $53.31. 

Several factors, including inflation, supply chain disruptions, and significant losses to turkey flocks this year, all contributed to the increase, according to AFBF. This year’s national average cost was calculated using 224 surveys completed with pricing data from all 50 states and Puerto Rico.

“General inflation slashing the purchasing power of consumers is a significant factor contributing to the increase in average cost of this year’s Thanksgiving dinner,” said AFBF Chief Economist Roger Cryan. General inflation has been running 7% to 9% in recent months, while the most recent Consumer Price Index report for food consumed at home reveals a 12% increase over the past year. 

“Other contributing factors to the increased cost for the meal include supply chain disruptions and the war in Ukraine,” Cryan said. “The higher retail turkey cost at the grocery store can also be attributed to a slightly smaller flock this year, increased feed costs and lighter processing weights.” Cryan said the supply of whole turkeys available to consumers should be adequate this year, although there may be temporary, regional shortages in some states where avian influenza was detected earlier this year.

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For shoppers who have not yet purchased a turkey, there may still be some bargains. AFBF found that turkey costs more than last year, at $28.96 for a 16-pound bird. That’s $1.81 per pound, up 21% from last year. However, Farm Bureau “volunteer shoppers” checked prices Oct. 18-31, before most grocery store chains began featuring whole frozen turkeys at sharply lower prices. According to USDA Agricultural Marketing Service data, the average per-pound feature price for whole frozen turkeys was $1.11 the week of Nov. 3-9 and 95 cents the week of Nov. 10-16, a decline of 14% in just one week; and the share of stores offering feature prices rose from 29% to 60%. This means consumers who have not yet purchased a turkey should be able to find one at a lower cost than the Farm Bureau average.

Folllowing release of the AFBF report, USDA issued a release to highlight steps the Biden Administration has taken to lower costs for producers and consumers before the holiday season.

"In part because of these actions, inflation at the grocery store is easing for families across the country. The price of a large fresh turkey will cost just 2 cents more per pound than last year (a 1% increase) and a large frozen turkey will cost 9 cents more per pound than last year, with the ongoing HPAI outbreak, Russia’s war on Ukraine, and drought across the United States pushing up the price of Thanksgiving staples. Despite these challenges, the October Consumer Price Index Report shows a much-needed break in inflation at the grocery store as we head into the holidays, with food price increases coming in at a decelerating pace," according to a USDA release.

The shopping list for Farm Bureau’s informal survey includes turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes, rolls with butter, peas, cranberries, a veggie tray, pumpkin pie with whipped cream, and coffee and milk, all in quantities sufficient to serve a family of 10 with plenty for leftovers.

“We should not take our food supply for granted,” said AFBF President Zippy Duvall. “Supporting sustainable productive agriculture in the U.S. and globally is imperative. As many of us gather with family and friends for a special meal, it’s a time for giving thanks and doing our part to help those who can’t afford a big holiday feast,” he added. 

Editor's Note: This story has been updated with USDA reaction to the AFBF research.

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