Thanksgiving dinner to cost 14% more this year compared to 2020

Shopper Kathleen Becker inspects a turkey at the Schnucks Grocery Store in Des Peres, Mo., on November 10. Rising costs in turkeys are expected to push Thanksgiving dinner prices this year. Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI

Nov. 18 (UPI) — The average cost for a Thanksgiving Day feast is expected to jump by 14% over last year, an analysis by the American Farm Bureau Federation indicates Thursday.

The organization said the average cost for Thanksgiving dinner for 10 people will be $53.31, or less than $6 per person, this year. In 2020, the price tag was $46.90.

The AFBF blamed “several mitigating factors” for the bump in price, including the Thanksgiving centerpiece. Turkeys are up roughly 24% over last year, the biggest increase among all food items considered.

“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,” AFBF senior economist Veronica Nigh said.

She said among the factors contributing the increased cost in Thanksgiving dinner were “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.”

“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.”

For its analysis, the AFBF had volunteer shoppers check prices on certain food items between Oct. 26 and Nov. 8.

16-pound turkey up 24% ($23.99)
Two frozen pie crusts up 20% ($2.91)
14-ounce bag of cubed stuffing mix up 19% ($2.29)
One dozen dinner rolls up 15% ($3.05)
1-pound vegetable tray up 12% (82 cents)
Miscellaneous ingredients to prepare the meal up 12% ($3.45)
12-ounce bag of fresh cranberries up 11% ($2.98)
30-ounce can of pumpkin pie mix up 7% ($3.64)
1 gallon of whole milk up 7% ($3.30)
1 pound of frozen peas up 6% ($1.54)
3 pounds of sweet potatoes up 4% ($3.56)

The analysis also considered other alternative Thanksgiving feast options, including ham, russet potatoes and frozen green beans, which increased the overall cost to $68.72, up 14% over 2020.

The AFBF said it evaluated prices at 218 grocery stories from all 50 states and Puerto Rico. The shoppers checked prices in person and online, and took advantage of specials and coupons when possible.

The most recently Consumer Price Index shows that in September, the price of food rose 4.6% over 2020, with increases across all major grocery categories. The biggest sticker shock at Thanksgiving was expected to be at the butcher counter.

Meats, poultry, fish and eggs had 10.5% increase from September 2020. Beef and veal saw the highest price increases at 17.6%, followed by pork at 12.7%.

The Department of Agriculture expects a turkey shortage to further push costs for Thanksgiving dinner.


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