Your Thanksgiving meal may cost significantly more this year than last. The most recent Consumer Price Index report found that the cost of food overall is up 13% over the last 12 months, but what about the cost of turkey in particular?
Fresh Turkey Prices Are 6.5% Higher Than Last Year
The average cost per pound for fresh turkey is now $1.14, according to the latest USDA data, up from $1.07 last year — a 6.5% increase. Frozen turkey prices have also increased — the average cost per pound is now $1.11, up from $1.06 last year. That’s a 4.7% increase.
Depending on where you live and shop, however, you may see much higher prices. Fresh turkeys are selling for as much as $1.99 per pound in the Northeast and South Central states as well as in Alaska, and as much as $2.99 per pound in Hawaii.
Why Are Turkey Prices Higher?
There are a couple of factors that are driving turkey prices up, one of which is the outbreak of avian flu. The avian flu has affected over 50 million birds this year across 46 states, according to the latest USDA data. When an infected bird is discovered, farmers must eradicate the entire flock. This is leading to a shortage of available birds, which is driving up prices.
For example, Hormel Foods Corp. explained in its latest earnings call how it is using higher pricing to offset the effects of having a lower supply of birds for its Jennie-O Turkey Store brand: “As anticipated, volume and sales declined as a result of the supply impacts on the company’s vertically integrated supply chain from highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI),” the brand said. “Higher commodity prices […] drove the substantial improvement in segment profit.”
Another factor leading to higher turkey prices is that the cost to raise turkeys has increased. The cost of turkey feed has increased substantially over the past year, while the cost of farm labor has also increased, CNBC reported. In addition, farmers have been faced with supply shortages and drought, The New York Times reported. These extra costs faced by farmers are now being passed down to consumers.
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Prices are accurate as of Nov. 9, 2022, and are subject to change.