The cost of providing a traditional Thanksgiving turkey dinner to 10 people in 2021 is 14% higher than a year ago, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation's annual survey.
“Several factors contributed to the increase in average cost of this year’s Thanksgiving dinner,” said AFBF Senior Economist Veronica Nigh.
“These include dramatic disruptions to the U.S. economy and supply chains over the last 20 months; inflationary pressure throughout the economy; difficulty in predicting demand during the COVID-19 pandemic and high global demand for food, particularly meat,” she explained.
Further, “The trend of consumers cooking and eating at home more often due to the pandemic led to increased supermarket demand and higher retail food prices in 2020 and 2021, compared to pre-pandemic prices in 2019.”
In the chart, Political Calculations has ranked the cost of the individual items and groupings used by the Farm Bureau for their traditional turkey dinner menu from high to low according to their 2021 cost as you read from left to right. We've also tallied the cumulative cost of the meal, with the totals for each shown on the far right side of the chart.
Ranking the data this way lets us see that the increase in the cost of turkey is responsible for most of the year-over-year increase. Rising by $4.60 from 2020's $19.39 to 2021's $23.99 for a 16-pound bird, turkey alone accounts for nearly 72% of the year-over-year increase in the total cost for the meal.
Last Friday, the USDA's Turkey Market News Report showed that smaller 8- to 16-pound frozen turkeys were selling for $1.41 per pound, up from $1.15 the year before, a 22 percent increase. Large frozen turkeys were selling for a couple cents less. Meanwhile, fresh small birds were more expensive — $1.47 per pound — though the year-over-year increase was less, only 15 cents. Exacerbating the issue is that the total number of turkeys for 2021 is also down: six percent lower year-to-date in 2021 than in 2020.
Justin Benavidez, assistant professor of agricultural economics with Texas A&M's AgriLife, told the nearby KRHD News that this decreased production was the primary cause of the price increase. "This is actually one of those rare situations where the pandemic didn't have much to do with the supply and demand of turkey," he was quoted as saying.
But Gregory Martin, a poultry educator with Penn State Extension, didn't entirely agree, instead pointing to larger inflation concerns. "Prices are going to go up simply because of the cost to get the birds in the store," he told Lancaster Farming.
In fact, at $53.31, this year's Traditional Thanksgiving Dinner is the most expensive ever...
And if that's too pricey for you, the establishment has some options already:
The St.Louis Fed suggests switching from poultry to plants to avoid soaring food costs.
From the FRED Blog: A Thanksgiving dinner serving of poultry costs $1.42. A soybean-based dinner serving with the same amount of calories costs 66 cents and provides almost twice as much protein https://t.co/qmyjwZd7aU pic.twitter.com/pHv3ZR9o6u— St. Louis Fed (@stlouisfed) November 20, 2021
And The Washington Post offers some interesting advice to concerned feast planners - be flexible and rethink traditions.
“Taking turkey out of the basket of foods reveals a 6.6% price increase compared to last year, which tracks closely with the Consumer Price Index for food and general inflation across the economy.".
We're guessing there will be a tiny minority of price-sensitive readers who'll think that hot dogs, cheese, lettuce, and cookies with lukewarm water constitute a lackluster Thanksgiving spread, but that's where prices are falling.
At least leaders in the Western world aren't pushing (yet) the consumption of black swans amid a crippling food shortage in North Korea.
We can't wait for the establishment's nutrition advice ahead of Christmas. Who is ready for cricket pie?