Thanksgiving dinner cost: What impact will inflation have this year?

Thanksgiving dinner is going to cost more this year, but sale prices on the most expensive part of the meal — the turkey — could ease the sting.

This year’s average feast for 10 will cost $64.05, about a 20% increase from last year’s average of $53.31, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation’s 37th annual survey.

The bureau sent volunteer shoppers to check prices in all 50 states and Puerto Rico to determine the average cost of a set basket of Thanksgiving dinner items. The list includes turkey, stuffing, pie ingredients, dinner rolls, milk, sweet potatoes, vegetables, cranberries and other items needed to prepare the meal. Only cranberries declined in price from last year.

“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 Roger Cryan, the farm bureau’s chief economist.

He attributed the cost increases to supply chain disruptions, the war in Ukraine, a smaller turkey flock and increased costs for feed, fuel and fertilizer.

Credit: Alexis Larsen

Credit: Alexis Larsen

The survey was done between Oct. 18-31, which is before most retailers cut prices, so turkeys are likely to be less expensive this week than when the survey was done, according to the farm bureau.

Kroger has its store-branded turkeys on sale for 48 cents per pound, as part of a pricing initiative designed to allow customers to feed 10 people for $5 per person for a meal of turkey, stuffing, potatoes, corn, green bean casserole and other Thanksgiving favorites, said Jenifer Moore, Kroger spokesperson for the Dayton and Cincinnati region.

“We have an easy guide to build affordable meals with zero compromise on quality, flavor and variety,” Moore said. “We always want to provide our customers with the lowest cost possible.”

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Dorothy Lane Market is selling store-branded, non-GMO, fresh turkeys from the Bowman & Landes farm in New Carlisle for $5.49 per pound, up from about $4.99 last year, said Jerry Post, store director at the Oakwood location.

DLM’s customer rewards are tiered, based on how much people patronize the locations, and the top customers can get a free turkey, he said.

He said most Thanksgiving-related grocery items, such as canned green beans and cranberry sauce, are at the same or close to last year’s prices but “we’re seeing a little bit more inflation on the fresh items that are coming in.”

Credit: JIM NOELKER

Credit: JIM NOELKER

High monthly inflation rates this year have both consumers and producers feeling the pinch.

“Our turkey prices have gone up and the national turkey market prices have also gone up year-over-year,” said Drew Bowman, co-owner of the Bowman & Landes. “Our turkeys are up about 15% year over year. The national commodity turkey average is up over 20%.”

The company’s fresh, locally raised, no-antibiotic, vegetarian-fed free range turkeys increased in price to $4.59 per pound at the farm’s retail store, Bowman said. The turkeys are raised from hatchlings and harvested on the farm so they are never transported by truck.

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

“Just like any other business right now everyone’s experiencing inflationary pressures. Speaking from a turkey perspective that includes the turkey feed costs. The corn and soybeans that are primary ingredients for the feed are more expensive,” Bowman said.

“Labor costs are more expensive,” he said. “All the little things — bags and boxes and everything that goes into making turkey and all of the overhead is increasing similar to about every other item that you can think of.”

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National turkey prices also are impacted by regional shortages caused by the avian flu virus that was detected earlier this year, Cryan said.

“Since early 2022, more than 49 million birds in 46 states have either died as a result of bird flu virus infection or have been culled (killed) due to exposure to infected birds,” according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.

Saving money

Shoppers can take some steps to cut costs, according to Sheri Sword, vice president of communications for the Better Business Bureau of Dayton and Miami Valley. The group has holiday shopping tips that apply to both food and gifts, including:

  • Budget so you know in advance how much you want to spend and avoid impulse buying.
  • Look for sale prices using business advertisements, which can be found in print ads as well as online and social media.
  • Use loyalty programs, which often give members early access to sales, as well as coupons and rewards for purchases.

A variety of Dayton region organizations, including the Montgomery County Veterans Service Commission, Community Helping Hands, House of Bread, With God’s Grace and Miami Valley Meals, are providing free meals or assistance for Thanksgiving.

One bit of good news for consumers is the most recent federal data show inflation is beginning to moderate.

The Consumer Price Index rose 0.4% in October, the same monthly increase as September after rising in June to this year’s high of 1.3%, according to seasonally adjusted data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

October’s year-over-year increase was 7.7 percent, the smallest increase since the 12-month period ending January 2022, according to the BLS.

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“Inflation has certainly leveled off,” Post said, pointing to flat prices the store has been paying for goods during the past several weeks.

“It was a little scary there for a while,” Post said. “But it seems to be fairly stable right at the moment. It’s hard. No one wants to see prices go up, especially right now when it is happening in everything. You have to buy groceries.”

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