New Report Shows Your Thanksgiving Turkey Will Cost 23% More This Year

Thanksgiving just hasn't been the same since the COVID-19 pandemic struck in 2020. After most struggled through the holidays with virtual family celebrations via Zoom or Facetime, we had hoped that 2021 would be normal, but it was not meant to be. According to Vox, we were still eating in small groups, still staying away from most family and friends, and our turkey needs had pivoted from the big birds that fed plenty in the "before days" of pre-2020, to smaller birds that fed groups of five or less.

Many, who hope 2022 will be the year, they finally get a proper Thanksgiving feast may be disappointed. The holiday season will reportedly face supply chain shortages. This year, Axios is warning that problems with our seasonal turkeys are looming over the horizon once again, and we are expected to struggle with finding the right size of bird to feed both family and friends. This year, thanks to an avian flu outbreak that killed off more than 8 million turkeys (via CDC data), finding a bird that will suit your needs will be more difficult to do. 

Turkeys may be smaller than in years past.

Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilisack stressed that the problem wasn't whether or not we would have turkey for dinner, it was how hefty these turkeys would be before they are sold to meet our holiday needs (via Axios). He told the outlet, "Some of the turkeys that are being raised right now for Thanksgiving may not have the full amount of time to get to 20 pounds. I don't think you're going to have to worry about whether or not you can carve your turkey on Thanksgiving. It's going to be there, maybe smaller, but it'll be there."

In any case, getting a smaller turkey could well be what the home chef ordered, particularly in light of recent price increases driven by the worst inflation that the world has seen in decades. In the United Kingdom, New Food Magazine says food inflation has broken records, with October 22 seeing the prices of basic products like tea, milk, and sugar skyrocket to 11.6%. In the United States, food prices were 11.2% higher in September 2022 versus September 2021, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The cost of eating at home skyrocketed by 13% in September year-on-year, and the cost of eating out rose by 8.5% in the same period.

Eating out at Thanksgiving could be cheaper

Given all those factors, Wells Fargo warns us to manage our expectations with regard to the size — and price — of our Thanksgiving turkeys this year. Thanks to rising food prices and the avian flu outbreak, the price of turkey could well cost a whopping 23% more this year than it was at the same time last year. Yahoo reported customers can expect to pay $1.64 per pound for a bird that can weigh between eight to 16 pounds. 

As a result, it may be a wise idea to buy your turkeys early, as you are likely to have done last year. As Brad Rubin, Wells Fargo Food and Agribusiness Sector Manager of Specialty Crops told Yahoo, "Buying frozen turkeys now might be a little bit of a more economical option." Ultimately, given that the price of food consumed at home has risen faster than food consumed outside, Rubin suggests now may also be a time to consider eating out for the holiday. He said, "It's really going to be considered a stronger value this year, by potentially eating out instead of at home."