Thanksgiving dinner to gobble up more money this year

Thanksgiving is just a few days away, and if you’ve already started preparing your meal, you’ve probably noticed that it costs more than last year.

“It’s going to be 14.9% higher than it was last year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics,” said Phil Lempert, editor at supermarketguru.com. “And that’s on top of, you know, in 2021, it was 14% higher than in 2020.”

Lempert said that means consumers need to prepare for some of the highest price increases than ever before. 

“The cost of turkey, according to the USDA, that’s up 23% over last year,” he said. “On average, they’re suggesting that it’s going to cost $1.64. Last year it was $1.15 a pound.”

And there are several reasons why the price has increased so much since last year.

“First, avian flu,” Lempert said. “That’s killed more than 49 million birds this year, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Also, we have labor shortages in the poultry processing facilities.”

But Lempert said there is some good news – a turkey war.

“Walmart has rolled back their price to under $1 a pound. Aldi rolled back their prices to what it was three years ago on a lot of different turkey and Thanksgiving products,” he said.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the price of a Thanksgiving dinner is about 14% more than last year.
AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh

Because of that, Lempert said other retailers have also started to reduce their prices.

“So, read those circulars carefully because even though the prices are higher, bottom line is that they want you to come into their stores.”

Historically, wherever consumers shop for Thanksgiving, they will also go to the same store for Christmas and New Year’s.

“This is the biggest season for grocery retailers,” Lempert said. “So, if they can get us now, guess what? You know, we’re going to stay with them for the next couple of months.”

How weather and war are affecting what you pay for Thanksgiving food this year

While things like the avian flu and labor shortages affect what we pay at the grocery store, the weather and wars also affect prices.

“If we take a look at what’s gone on between the fires in the Northwest, that’s affected the soil and the corn that gets fed to the poultry, the turkeys,” Lempert said. 

Lempert said Russia is the largest exporter of manure, and because of their war with Ukraine, farmers are paying more for that as well.

“So, anything to do with an animal is up,” he said. “Butter is up 25.8%. Chicken is up 17.2%. Eggs are up 32.5%. Pork is up 6.1%. So, I think we’re going to see a lot of ham being eaten this Thanksgiving than ever before.”

There’s also a potato shortage due to various weather conditions, according to Lempert.

“Potatoes were up 35%,” he said. “So, here’s a hint. This year, what I’m going to do, instead of having, you know, a normal mashed potato or baked potato, I’m going to switch to sweet potatoes because those are actually not affected by weather conditions. And also, a lot of potato farmers have switched from regular potatoes to sweet potatoes.”