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Limit Up

By Tori Uhland

November 17, 2023

I think we have all noticed the increase in prices of everything from daily necessities like groceries and toiletries to unnecessary pleasures like Netflix and holiday decor. In true Thanksgiving spirit, I have been doing some research on the cost of this year’s turkey dinner and food inflation.

It was very surprising to me that many sources are reporting that this year’s Thanksgiving dinner will cost less than it did in 2022. The average dinner for 2023 will cost an average of $61.17 for a meal for ten people. The 2022 dinner cost was a record high at $64.05, so this year it is coming in about 4.5 percent lower than that. While we are catching a bit of a break compared to last year, the 2023 cost is still a 25 percent increase from 2019, before inflation hit us hard. That year, the cost of a Thanksgiving dinner for 10 was $48.91. USA Today reported that grocery prices are up 17 percent over the last two years.

The decrease in price is primarily thanks to the star of the show: the turkey. The cost of turkey will account for around 45 percent of the total cost of a traditional dinner. A 16 pound turkey, enough to feed 8 to 10 people, will cost approximately $27.35, which is down 5.6 percent from 2022.

Whipping cream is down 22.8 percent (thank goodness for this, who doesn’t love some whipped cream on their pumpkin pie?!) and cranberries are lower by 18.3 percent. If you are a fan of stuffing, you’re in luck, because that is down about 2.8 percent.

Unfortunately, three of my personal favorite Thanksgiving dinner staples have gone up in price. Pumpkin pie mix is up 3.8 percent, dinner rolls are up 2.9 percent, and sweet potatoes are up 0.3 percent.

Inflation is still 2 percent above the target set by the Federal Reserve, despite easing some over the last few months. Food and energy prices have been extremely volatile this year with an increase in feed and fertilizer costs and persistent supply chain issues.

Turkey costs have decreased because of a large reduction in bird flu cases. The outbreak isn’t over yet, but it is less severe than in 2022. Last year, the USDA said there were nearly 58 million birds slaughtered due to the avian flu outbreak. This year, 4.6 million birds have been killed. You have probably noticed this positive impact on chicken, turkey, and egg prices compared to last year at this time. In January of this year, the national average price for a dozen eggs rose to a peak of $4.82. The year before, in January of 2022, the average price for a dozen eggs was less than half of that at $1.93. The current average in the United States for a carton of a dozen eggs is about $2.07.

Switching gears a bit, I also wanted to share these Thanksgiving dinner statistics from the USDA: In 2022, American farmers produced…

210 million turkeys, valued at $7.1 billion; 8 million barrels of cranberries; over 40 billion pounds of potatoes, valued at $5.1 billion; more than 1.6 billion pounds of pumpkins, valued at over $272 million; 1.4 billion pounds of green beans, valued at more than $325 million; almost 5.7 billion pounds of sweet corn, valued at $809 million; and over 2.6 billion pounds of sweet potatoes, valued at $598 million. Minnesota led the way in turkey production, Wisconsin was the top cranberry producing state, and Illinois produced the most pumpkins with 38 percent of all US production.

It’s good news that the cost of Thanksgiving dinner this year is lower—albeit still expensive—but I hope everyone has a wonderful and safe holiday.

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