Weather Impacts Cost of Thanksgiving Feast

Posted: November 23, 2022 3:00 am

Turkeys and Cranberries See the Biggest Price Increases

The normal course of inflation and a stagnant economy are not the only issues triggering the escalating cost of food these days. A host of weather factors and the spread of the avian flu is also impacting the cost of a traditional Thanksgiving dinner in more ways than one.

Avian Flu Sends Turkey Prices Higher

According to the Farm Bureau annual survey report, you are not imagining a rapid acceleration in the cost of your Turkey Day dinner. The average cost for a Thanksgiving feast for 10 individuals sits at $64.05 in 2022, up from $53.31 in 2021.

The first major item to be impacted by an increase in pricing is the turkey itself. The National Turkey Federation said that there have been about 8 million turkeys lost since the beginning of the year at the hands of the bird flu.

This immense loss is certainly jacking up the prices for these birds, however, experts said that they do not anticipate any turkey shortages as a result of the avian influenza. While 8 million is a large loss, this number only accounts for just a tad over 3% of annual turkey production in the country. Losses of this magnitude will impact farmers on an individual level even if they are not likely to trigger a noticeable shortage in the availability of turkeys heading into the holiday season.

Drought Conditions Also Impacting Turkey Loss

In addition to the avian flu, ongoing drought conditions across much of the country have also impacted the availability of turkey feed as well as the cost of fuel needed to transport the birds. Because turkeys typically eat a lot of corn and soybeans, the increase in these prices have translated to a higher cost of the birds that you would purchase at the supermarket.

When looking at turkeys specifically, the average cost of a turkey this year is $0.97 per pound. However, many retailers drastically slash the price of these birds or even give them away for free in an effort to entice customers into their stores to spend money on other holiday essentials. This means that many consumers may not even notice the increase in turkey prices this year.

Climate Changes Impact Cranberry Crops

Turkeys are not the only Thanksgiving staple that have been impacted by environmental factors this year. Temperatures trended higher across much of the northern U.S. this year, the area in which cranberry production is the highest. Additionally, the rain that fell across this part of the country in the fall was not enough to reverse the damage of the exceptionally dry summer.

This change in the overall weather pattern meant that farmers had a more difficult time with their cranberry crop harvest in 2022, sending the prices of the fall fruit soaring. The states that produce the largest amount of cranberries each year are Wisconsin, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Oregon.

Cranberries need a certain amount of cool temperatures and rain to flourish. As the warm temperatures creeped upward this year, the harvests were not as bountiful when compared to past years.

Your best bet in keeping your Thanksgiving meal costs as low as possible this year is to shop around to find the best prices. It may require a few more trips but the savings could end up being well worth the effort.

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