Thanksgiving Turkey Prices Are Soaring This Year

When you hear someone talking about the Thanksgiving holiday, chances are you're picturing a feast with a variety of dishes, including pumpkin pie, mashed potatoes, corn, and cranberry sauce. Of course, the image that takes precedence above all is a turkey, roasted to perfection as the centerpiece of the table.

According to the Smithsonian, despite a narrative that suggests turkey was always a feature of the November holiday, it might not be the case. A foodways culinarian from Plimoth Plantation suggested that duck, goose, or possibly even swan meat featured at the first Thanksgiving, which was said to have "wildfowl" on the menu Britannica, suggests the origin story of why turkey became the iconic meat of Thanksgiving is one that played out over centuries. By the early 1800s, turkeys were much more prevalent and people preferred them because of their size.

Britannica also suggests that "modern breeding practices have helped make turkeys both larger and cheaper than ever, thus ensuring their continued place on the Thanksgiving table." However, that could change for some consumers this year with the soaring price of turkey.

The avian flu is helping to drive up prices

Inflation has affected seemingly every aspect of life with the consumer price index (CPI) climbing to 8.5% higher in July than it was a year earlier. According to Forbes, the CPI appeared to have stabilized between June and July. While that is good news, things didn't automatically become cheaper. The farming industry took an extra hit with bird flu that destroyed some 6 million turkeys (via the New York Post).

According to the Wall Street Journal, this time last year, turkey breast meat cost under $2 per pound. Today, it's averaging $6.50 per pound. The effects of this are already being felt by businesses. Hormel Foods reported that sales for its Jenny-O Turkey Store had fallen by 20%, and it expected a further decrease in sales in the next quarter.

If you were thinking of swapping turkey for a different type of poultry, unfortunately, the avian flu was not limited to the Thanksgiving bird. The USDA has reported that over 40 million birds across the U.S. have been affected. However, there are plenty of foods you can serve this Thanksgiving instead of turkey. Or if you've already decided it's worth the expense, here are some tips on the right way to roast a turkey.