Updated: Jul 21
Be grateful - for the first time in three years, families are gathering to celebrate Thanksgiving in person. However, the cost of the meal escalated by 31 percent since families last gathered without concerns in 2019, a $15.14 increase.
Families purchasing a turkey or a box of stuffing for the Thanksgiving feast are doing a double take at the price tags. Prices over the 12-month average have skyrocketed for most of the traditional meal. The American Farm Bureau’s annual survey of the Thanksgiving meal estimates that the cost for 10 people in 2022, is $64.05, a 20-percent increase over last year. This is the highest year-over-year increase in the cost of the meal since the survey’s beginnings in 1986. In 2019, the average cost was $48.91 for 10 people.
The Farm Bureau’s survey includes:
16-pound turkey: $28.96 or $1.81 per pound (up 21%)
14-ounce bag of cubed stuffing mix: $3.88 (up 69%)
2 frozen pie crusts: $3.68 (up 26%)
Half pint of whipping cream: $2.24 (up 26%)
1 pound of frozen peas: $1.90 (up 23%)
1 dozen dinner rolls: $3.73 (up 22%)
ingredients to prepare the meal: $4.13 (up 20%)
30-ounce can of pumpkin pie mix: $4.28 (up 18%)
1 gallon of whole milk: $3.84 (up 16%)
3 pounds of sweet potatoes: $3.96 (up 11%)
1-pound veggie tray (carrots & celery): 88 cents (up 8%)
12-ounce bag of fresh cranberries: $2.57 (down 14%)
Inflation is a huge factor contributing to the rapidly increasing prices, with other global concerns adding to the escalation. War in Ukraine, supply chain disruptions, avian influenza, and adverse weather patterns are some other factors influencing prices.
Unfortunately, consumers looking to save money by making more from scratch face even steeper price increases with basic ingredients like cooking oil, butter, and eggs soaring even higher, at 47%, 27%, and 44%, respectively.
The oil market has been the hardest hit of all grocery items, with the war in Ukraine tightening the world food oil supply and driving the price up. Ukraine is the number one producer of sunflower oil, which accounts for 9 percent of the world supply. Trade disruptions with other countries and severe weather patterns have also adversely affected oil supply. Butter, a favorite substitute for oil, has faced increasing challenges from a short milk supply, poor weather conditions, and lower cow inventories. The price increase for butter is expected to continue with the upcoming holiday baking driving demand higher.
Eggs are the second highest year-over-year price increase, with Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) hitting egg laying flocks throughout the United States. In October, consumers paid an average of $3.42 for a dozen Grade A, large eggs. Chicken meat prices have softened slightly, because meat flocks were not hit as hard and prices have already started to recover.
Some analysts say the escalating cost of ingredients would make it more favorable to eating out for the Thanksgiving feast, because food-away-from-home inflation (3.4 percent) outpaced food-at-home (3.5 percent). However, the total cost of eating out is still more than the cost of a home cooked meal. A report by CNBC indicates most consumers will not compromise on the traditional meal, instead finding alternatives to mitigate the increasing prices - looking for deals and seeking out lower-priced stores are the top two alternatives.
Unfortunately, increasing demand during the holiday season, will only cause prices to climb higher, with other influencing factors refusing to soften. Economists are predicting food prices to climb an additional 3.0 to 4.0 percent in 2023. Despite on-farm price increases, producers still face market volatility and stagnated or decreasing margins.
Only 8 cents from each dollar spent on food returns to the farm and cost increases for all inputs, especially fuel and fertilizer are also eating into the producers’ bottom lines. Agricultural cost increases are expected to be 17.8 percent in 2022 for all inputs, with fertilizer jumping by 52.3 percent. Net farm income, adjusted for inflation, only rose 0.6 percent during the same period.
In a year, where it is a relief to be gathering without social distancing guidelines, families and farmers are faced with the challenging economy. However, give thanks that these holiday gatherings of families and friends are still occurring despite the cost increases. As we once again spend time with our loved ones, our relationships within our communities will be strengthened, a much better alternative to social distancing and political discord.