Thanksgiving Turkeys May Be 112% More Expensive This Year

Homemade Roasted Thanksgiving Day Turkey with all the Sides.
bhofack2 / Getty Images/iStockphoto

Gathering around the Thanksgiving table is going to cost a bit more this year. Not only are holiday flights the most expensive they’ve been in years, but turkeys are pushing the pocketbooks too. The prized bird may be much more expensive this year, says a new report from the American Farm Bureau Foundation. 

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Ongoing inflation and rises in the cases of bird flu are affecting prices for turkey at the grocery store, says the AFBF. The foundation notes that, as of September, the retail cost for boneless, skinless turkey breast was averaging $6.70 per pound, which was 112% more than the same time last year when it cost $3.16 per pound. 

Putting that into perspective, at current rates, a 10-pound bird for a family gathering of 10 (assuming the standard one-pound per person rule) would amount to $60. 

The current pricing is even above the last record-breaking Thanksgiving grocery trip in 2015 when turkey retailed for $5.88 a pound due to an outbreak of avian influenza.

“All of us are feeling the pain of higher prices at the grocery store,” AFBF President Zippy Duvall said in a statement. “HPAI outbreaks in the spring and an uptick in cases in the fall are taking a toll, but farmers remain dedicated to ensuring America’s food supply remains strong.”

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The USDA reported in July that avian flue cases had been found in 40 states and are growing, but the AFBF assures there will be enough turkey supply for families who still want to make the bird the centerpiece of their meal.

The agency also wants to ensure consumers know that farmers are not profiting off the record prices. They point to the fact that farmers are feeling the hit from inflation too, having to pay more for fuel, fertilizer, feed for the birds and labor costs that makes sourcing the meat more expensive on their side. 

Those same factors have increased the overall cost of food 11.4% month-over-month in August, according to the latest findings from the Consumer Price Index, released in mid-September. Eggs and flour are also up in price, which could affect the holiday baking staples too.

Poultry prices are the highest in the meat category, according to the latest CPI data. Chicken and turkey are now 16.6% higher month-over-month whereas beef is up 6.7% and pork has increased by 6.8%. So if you’re looking for a more affordable option for Thanksgiving dinner, you might consider a braised pork loin or glazed roasted chicken or even a meatless “veggie” steak, tapping into a variety of non-traditional entrees that are becoming more popular for Thanksgiving feasts according to Food & Wine.

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Good Morning America spoke to American Farm Bureau Federation senior economist Veronica Nigh who also suggested going for more side dishes in place of turkey as prices skyrocket.

“We’re looking at ways to perhaps mitigate cheaper Thanksgiving dinner and maybe more side dishes to go along with that with that turkey and looking for substitutes at the grocery store,” she said. “Think about getting a frozen rather than a fresh turkey this year. Ways to really stretch that dollar and so that we can all be together but still have that traditional Thanksgiving dinner.”

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About the Author

Selena Fragassi joined in 2022, adding to her 15 years in journalism with bylines in Spin, Paste, Nylon, Popmatters, The A.V. Club, Loudwire, Chicago Sun-Times, Chicago Tribune, Chicago Magazine and others. She currently resides in Chicago with her rescue pets and is working on a debut historical fiction novel about WWII. She holds a degree in fiction writing from Columbia College Chicago.
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