Expect to Pay More for a Turkey This Year

Expect to Pay More for a Turkey This Year

By Mike Pomranz | FoodAndWine.Com

Troy Warren for CNT #Foodie

Average turkey prices are currently as high as they’ve ever been.

The price of pretty much everything is up this year. Even if you haven’t read one of our many articles on the subject, you’ve probably experienced it firsthand simply by doing things like shopping for food. And if you’re expecting your Thanksgiving turkey to be an exception, well, think again.

Back in August, rumblings about potential turkey shortages were already spreading and though your experience may vary depending on where you live, the general consensus now that November has arrived is that, yes, turkey prices are up and you should expect to pay more.

The American Farm Bureau has yet to chime in with their annual Thanksgiving dinner cost analysis, but the group’s senior economist Veronica Nigh told the Chicago Tribune that prices will likely be in line with the USDA’s overall forecast for food price increases for the year, which is between three to four percent. That alone could raise the average price of a bird as much as 75 cents, but poultry (and turkey prices specifically) have been surging even higher.

Last Friday, the USDA’s Turkey Market News Report showed that smaller 8- to 16-pound frozen turkeys were selling for $1.41 per pound, up from $1.15 the year before, a 22 percent increase. Large frozen turkeys were selling for a couple cents less. Meanwhile, fresh small birds were more expensive — $1.47 per pound — though the year-over-year increase was less, only 15 cents. Exacerbating the issue is that the total number of turkeys for 2021 is also down: six percent lower year-to-date in 2021 than in 2020.

Justin Benavidez, assistant professor of agricultural economics with Texas A&M’s AgriLife, told the nearby KRHD News that this decreased production was the primary cause of the price increase. “This is actually one of those rare situations where the pandemic didn’t have much to do with the supply and demand of turkey,” he was quoted as saying.

But Gregory Martin, a poultry educator with Penn State Extension, didn’t entirely agree, instead pointing to larger inflation concerns. “Prices are going to go up simply because of the cost to get the birds in the store,” he told Lancaster Farming.

Regardless of the reason, down in Florida, one seller admitted his prices were high: “We’re selling fresh whole turkeys for Thanksgiving this year at $2.99 a pound, the most we’ve ever charged,” Bruce Gaffka, owner of Gaff’s Quality Meat, told The Daytona Beach News-Journal. “Last year, we were selling them for $2.69 a pound.”

Those may be premium prices but, in general, all-time high pricing is due to inflation is inevitable. According to the New York Times, the USDA’s highest ever benchmark price for turkeys was set back in 2015 — at $1.36 per pound.

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By Troy Warren

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