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Thanksgiving Meal Costs Up

As many Americans prepare to enjoy a traditional Thanksgiving feast, preparing for the cost is also top of mind. The Farm Bureau’s 36th annual price survey of Thanksgiving menu favorites shows a significant jump.

“This is certainly the largest increase we’ve ever seen in the history of the survey,” said Nigh.

Veronica Nigh, the Senior Economist with the American Farm Bureau Federation breaks it down.

“This year the average price that our shoppers found when they went to the grocery stores all across the United States was $53.31. That is a feast for 10 with plenty of room for leftovers. This is less than $6 per person.”

That’s a 14% increase from last year’s average of $46.60.

Nigh said overall inflation in the U.S. of over 6% played a part in the increase, but there are other reasons as well.

“So, lots of factors at play here, certainly the disruptions from the pandemic, increased global demand as people like me ate their feelings and increased their consumption of all food products, but especially meat products. We’ve seen changes in the supply chain, and changes in consumer behavior. And all of that leads to increases in the cost of all products in the economy, but food as well,” said Nigh.

“And unfortunately, often times we don’t see increases in the share that farmers receive. So I think… let’s use the example of the turkey. Most growers of turkeys grow under contract, they sign their contract as late as this spring, and so the increase that we’ve seen in feed costs, in fertilizer costs, in transportation and gasoline… the farmer is paying all those increased costs but they locked in the price that they were receiving for their turkey way back in the spring. That’s not unusual for lots of agricultural products.”

“It’s important to remember to remember that only about 8% of the cost of food is related to farmer production costs. So, while we’re seeing these significant increases at the retail level, that doesn’t necessarily translate into increased prices and revenue for farmers,” explained Nigh.

Nigh suggests you can make the most of your dollar by doing some comparison shopping for your meal, because there can be a lot of price variation in the same city across retailers.

“Certainly, as things get back to normal and supply chains return to normal behavior, we would expect that next year and into the next months that the cost of food will certainly start looking more like the historical normal, rather than this increase that we’ve seen right now,” said Nigh.

For the voice of Idaho Agriculture, I’m Paul Boehlke.