Thanksgiving dinner costs on average up more than 20%

by Kim Souza ([email protected]) 558 views 

Consumers should not be surprised that a Thanksgiving dinner for a party of 10 will cost more than 20% this year thanks to inflation, fueled in part by higher prices charged by food companies.

The overall cost is roughly $6.50 per person or $64.05 this year for a traditional Thanksgiving day turkey dinner, up from $53.31 last year. According to the American Farm Bureau (AFB) survey, higher prices are not dampening plans to celebrate. Families who will also add ham, russet potatoes and green beans to their overall meal will spend on average $81.30, a gain of 18% over last year’s average price of $68.72, AFB reported.

“Spending time with family and friends at Thanksgiving remains important for many Americans, and this year the cost of the meal is also top of mind,” according to Roger Cryan, AFB chief economist.

“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,” he added. “General inflation has been running 7% to 9% in recent months, while the most recent Consumer Price Index report for food consumed at home reveals a 12% increase over the past year.”

Cryan said other factors contributing to the higher cost of this year’s meal include supply chain disruptions and the war in Ukraine. He said higher retail turkey prices can also be attributed to increased feed costs and lighter processing weights this year. He also said the turkey supply is adequate despite regional avian influenza outbreaks detected earlier this year.

AFB reported turkey costs averaged $28.96 this year for a 16-pound bird, up 21% year over year. AFB found up to 60% of U.S. retailers have frozen whole turkeys on sale this week, noting that consumers are likely to find prices similar to 2021. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has also said retailer promotions will likely reduce the impact of some higher Thanksgiving food prices.

Walmart recently announced it was holding its prices on traditional Thanksgiving dinner items at last year’s cost. This week a 17-pound premium Butterball turkey was selling for about $20, a savings of 44% over the reported price by AFB.

The AFB survey looked at the prices of 15 items, from sweet potatoes to stuffing mixes and rolls. All but one, cranberries, had gone up from the previous year’s survey. The survey did not break out the costs of butter and eggs, which have also seen price increases of 32% and 48%, respectively, from a year ago.

Nielsen reports that 91% of U.S. consumers are planning to celebrate Thanksgiving this year, with 83% staying home and 24% saying they would remain within 50 miles of their homes. Families are looking for intimate gatherings averaging about 10 people, Nielsen reports. The survey also found consumers plan to put comfort first, with 76% planning to wear leisure or casual clothes that stretch. Nielsen found 38% said they could buy a smaller turkey this year, and 35% said they could have fewer dessert options at this year’s gathering.

AAA predicts 54.6 million people will travel 50 miles or more from home this Thanksgiving, a 1.5% increase over 2021.