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Rising Thanksgiving Commodity Costs Gobbling Up Wallets

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It is time for Thanksgiving turkey you all!

skynesher/E+ via Getty Images

By Scott Bauer

At A Glance

  • The estimated cost of a Thanksgiving meal is 20% higher than a year ago
  • Supply chain issues, cases of avian flu and rising inflation are among factors impacting the prices of Thanksgiving food staples

How much is Thanksgiving going to cost us in 2022? It may come as no surprise, but the simple answer is more than last year.

According to an annual survey from the American Farm Bureau Federation, the average cost for a Thanksgiving dinner for 10 people in 2021 was $53.31. And in 2020, it was $46.90, the lowest since 2010.

But what about this year? The Farm Bureau is anticipating a 20% increase from last year’s average, or $64.05, for a 10-person Thanksgiving feast in 2022.

Many factors are contributing to these rising prices. The COVID-19 pandemic caused a major supply and demand problem, which has just started to ease, but hasn’t returned anywhere back to normal. Farmers are not only dealing with shortages, but also droughts that have caused major shortages of many Thanksgiving staples. For example, Massachusetts, which is the second-largest cranberry producer in the United States behind Wisconsin, has experienced what has ranged from a significant drought to a critical one throughout the state.

The lack of rain has seriously affected commerce. Nearly the entire stretch of the Mississippi River — from Minnesota to Louisiana — has experienced below average rainfall, and as a result, water levels on the river have dropped to near-record lows. The river moves more than half of all U.S. grain exports, but the drought has reduced the flow of goods by about 45%, according to industry estimates cited by the federal government.

If supply chain issues and drought weren’t enough, a severe case of avian flu has added to the turkey shortage. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, since early 2022, more than 49 million birds in 46 states have either died because of bird flu virus infection or have been culled (killed) due to exposure to infected birds. That includes over 6 million turkeys.

In addition, the ongoing war between Ukraine and Russia has spillover effects on grocery items in the United States. Ukraine is a large exporter of grains and vegetable oil products, and with a shortage of supply, consumers are paying as much as 32% more for butter and margarine products than last year.

And last, but not least, is the inflation problem. All retail food prices were 21% higher in September compared to the same time last year, but dropped somewhat in October. When it comes to Thanksgiving specifically, analysts say year-over-year cost increases in eggs (up 32.5%), butter (up 25.8%) and flour (up 17.1%) are some of the biggest contributors to the overall price jump consumers are facing when buying ingredients for Thursday’s big meal.

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Editor’s Note: The summary bullets for this article were chosen by Seeking Alpha editors.

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