This Thanksgiving, we’re grateful perhaps politics won't ruin be the main topic of conversation; inflation will. The cost of a traditional Thanksgiving meal is up 14% this year to $53.31 for a group of 10 people (a little under $6 per person), according to a survey conducted by the American Farm Bureau Association (AFBA).* This is the biggest annual increase in 31 years.
Nearly every component of the traditional American Thanksgiving dinner, from the disposable aluminum turkey roasting pan (aluminum is at a 10-year price high) to the coffee and pie, costs more this year, according to the agricultural economists, farmers, and grocery executives asked.
Supply chain snags and higher demand are only two of the causes for soaring prices. Here are some more reasons your Thanksgiving grocery receipt may require a double-take accompanied by a small gasp:
A 16-pound turkey costs $23.99, up 24% from last year, pricing out at $1.50 more per pound.
Two frozen pie crusts rose 20% to $2.91 this year.
And a dozen dinner rolls were up 15% from 2020, rolling in at $3.05.
Tyson Foods said that pork prices jumped 38%
Chicken prices gained 19% last quarter.
Packaged dinner rolls are pricier because the cost of almost all of the ingredients that commercial bakers use has gone up.
Canned cranberry sauce costs more because domestic steel plants have yet to catch up after pandemic shutdowns, and China is limiting steel production to reduce carbon emissions. As a result, steel prices are more than 200 percent higher than before the pandemic.
The heftier price tag on that turkey-friendly California pinot noir reflects a 25 percent surge in energy costs, expensive delays related to labor shortages, and the cost of glass bottles stuck on cargo ships coming from China. The average end-to-end shipping time from China to the United States was 73 days in September, up from 40 days two years earlier.
Turkey prices have risen because of the cost of corn - the turkey's primary food source. In fact, America's biggest cash crop has rarely been more expensive. Corn prices have risen roughly 50% in 2021, and a bushel costs more than twice what it did a year ago.
A late-spring drought in the Midwest damaged the sugar beet crop, which had already been hurt by freezing weather in 2019. Hurricane Ida shut cane-sugar refineries in the South.
Grape, nut, and citrus crops in California have suffered under this year’s drought.
Brazil, which supplies the world with more coffee than any other country, has endured severe drought and a surprise July frost, resulting in less coffee and higher prices.
Even the basic materials — like wooden pallets and cardboard containers — that farmers need to get their crops from the field to distributors are either hard to find or much more expensive.
Vanilla has traded at more than $500 per kilo in the past year - which is higher than silver. A 2017 cyclone wiped out much of the vanilla orchid plants in Madagascar (which produces 80% of the world's vanilla), and it takes three years for a plant to begin producing the pods from which the vanilla is harvested. Throw in vanilla thieves (higher than the price of silver, as you recall), a decline in growers, transportation issues, and high demand, and its possible vanilla could trade at platinum price levels.
In spite of the higher costs, the American Automobile Association (AAA) predicts more than 53.4 million people will travel this year; the highest single-year increase since 2005. Keeping that in mind, which is the real gift of Thanksgiving, we wish you a joy filled and blessed Thanksgiving with your friends and family.
* The two week delay between the survey of prices and this week when grocery stores may be offering coupons and special deals is good news for your wallet.
Sources: American Farm Bureau Association, NY Times, USA Today,
Food prices overall increased 5.3% annually in October, per the Bureau of Labor Statistics.—MM