Thanksgiving this year is expected to cost between 9% and 15% more than it did last year, with turkey and other traditional staples having jumped up in price. Food prices in general have risen between 9.5% to 10.5% this year; historically, they’ve risen only 2% annually. And specialty foods have risen even more sharply.
“This really isn’t a shortage thing. This is tighter supplies with some pretty good reasons for it,” said David Anderson, a professor and agricultural economist at Texas A&M.
Those reasons include lower production and higher costs for labor, transport, and materials. The pandemic, extreme weather around the world, and the war in Ukraine are also compounding factors. And simple shortage: an extra nasty strain of avian flu required poultry farms in 46 states to destroy 49 million turkeys, almost a quarter all those produced in the United States.
Due to that shortage, turkey this year will average $1.77 a pound, up almost 30% from last Thanksgiving. To keep enough available for every holiday table, companies began months ago to shift turkey production to focus on whole turkeys, causing a shortage of lunch-meat and other uses for partial birds.
Corn and eggs are both running short too, with war and disease respectively as the cause. Pumpkins were harvested at the normal level, but due to increased transportation and labor costs, canned pumpkin is up 17% in cost from Thanksgiving 2021.
Potatoes, too, are both scarce and more expensive. Craig Carlson, the CEO of Chicago-based Carlson Produce Consulting, said frost and a wet spring severely stunted potato growth this year. Growers also raised prices to compensate for the higher cost of seeds, fertilizer, diesel fuel and machinery. Production costs are up as much as 35% for some growers this year, an increase they can’t always recoup, Carlson said.
And of course, just driving to Grandmother’s is still between 20 and 30% more expensive than it was last autumn, with gas prices over $5 in most places.