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Turkey Prices Up Over 20 Percent With Thanksgiving Fast Approaching

Jonathan Walker
Jonathan loves talking politics, economics and philosophy. He carries unique perspectives on everything making him a rather odd mix of liberal-conservative with a streak of independent Austrian thought.
Published: November 13, 2021
Turkey prices have risen due to labor shortages and supply issues.
Turkey prices have risen due to labor shortages and supply issues. (Image: PublicDomainPictures via Pixabay)

The 2020 Thanksgiving dinner was one of the cheapest in American history according to a report by the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) released last year. Last year, a family of 10 members only had to spend $47 for the occasion. This year, however, Thanksgiving is poised to be costlier than ever.

In an interview with CBS, Veronica Nigh, a senior economist at AFBF, stated that overall food prices have risen by 3.7 percent in 2021. Turkey will be up to five percent more expensive this year compared to 2020.

Recently published data by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reveals that food prices have increased by 10.5 percent compared to last year; the cost of a frozen turkey weighing 8 to 16 pounds has jumped up by 22.6 percent from last year. Fresh turkeys are now 11.1 percent more expensive. 

The spike in food prices is due to several factors, such as scarcity of labor, supply chain disruptions, and rising transportation costs. Many turkey processing plants shut down this year due to the pandemic. 

However, turkey production for the year has largely remained stable. One change is that the turkeys are larger as many farmers kept the birds on feed for a longer time expecting higher demand. 

In an interview with Fortune, food trends analyst Phil Lempert stated that the fluctuations in cost depends on the type of turkey. “What we are seeing is that the smaller turkeys—12 pounds and less—are both more expensive and in short supply, due to labor shortages… Some of these larger birds have been in frozen storage, so the pricing isn’t affected by current conditions,” Lempert said.

According to a survey conducted by Finance Buzz, 63 percent of Americans believe rising food prices will impact their Thanksgiving dinner. Thirty-nine percent said that they plan to have more guests this year compared to last year; 21 percent plan to have fewer guests due to rising food costs; 24 percent think that they might be forced to cut back on food. 

“To combat rising food bills, Americans will look for ways to save at the grocery store with 44% saying they’ll be looking for sales more than usual and 25% saying they’ll use more coupons than usual. Others may have to take more drastic measures to manage Thanksgiving dinner costs,” the survey stated.

A WSJ report on Nov. 9 noted that turkeys were more than 60 percent out of stock by the end of October. In addition, supplies of food and household items were lower than normal last month by 11 percent. 

Many have criticized the Biden administration for being unable to control food prices and for making Thanksgiving dinner difficult to afford. In an interview with Breitbart, Republican Representative Elise Stefanik blamed rising food prices on Democrats’ “reckless spending” coupled with supply chain, labor, energy, and economic crises.

“Inflation is taxation and simply put, Joe Biden has created a Turkey Tax on all Americans. Instead of addressing these crises facing Americans, Biden and House Democrats are pushing for the most radical agenda in American history, which will only exacerbate these crises,” Stefanik said.