Record prices for turkey, other expensive staples expected this Thanksgiving

(NEXSTAR) – It may seem early to think about Thanksgiving, but experts are already predicting that the holiday and its traditionally big meal will be expensive, especially the main dish: turkey.

Turkey prices ahead of Thanksgiving could hit record highs, economists at the American Farm Bureau Foundation said last week.

Last month, the retail price of fresh boneless, skinless turkey breast hit a record high of $6.70 a pound, according to the AFBF report. That’s 112% up from the same time last year when it was around $3.16 a pound.

The last time turkey prices were this high was in 2015, when the US swept through the outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI), which is contributing to today’s record prices.

In February, the USDA warned about HPAI after it was found in three states, adding that it could spread quickly and wreak havoc in the poultry industry. By early April, HPAI had spread to at least 20 states. The USDA’s latest data shows cases have been confirmed in 40 states, with Iowa excluding the brunt of the impact.

AFBF economists are also pointing to inflation, which has reached levels Americans haven’t seen in years. In August, retail food prices were more than 11% higher than the same period last year. Some of the hardest-hit items are holiday baking season staples like butter, eggs and flour.

Though turkey prices are likely to be higher this year, economists say there shouldn’t be a problem with supply. However, the higher prices are not expected to abate any time soon.

“The combination of lower production and increased demand is likely to keep turkey prices higher for some time,” Bernt Nelson, economist at the AFBF, told Nexstar.

AFBF has yet to release its annual cost estimate for Thanksgiving meals for this year, but prices for a number of common items are trending upwards, the latest Labor Department data shows. These include fresh cookies, buns and muffins, which are up 17% year over year; frozen and chilled baked goods (like pies and tarts) are up 18%; canned fruit and vegetables at 16%; sauces and sauces at 17%; and potatoes at 15%.

Thanksgiving celebrations were also forecast to be expensive last year. The AFBF predicted that the average cost of preparing a Thanksgiving dinner would be about $53 in 2021, up from $47 in 2020. Since 2011, the average cost has hovered around $50 each year. Record prices for turkey, other expensive staples expected this Thanksgiving

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