Here’s how to throw a Thanksgiving dinner for less. Turkey prices are skyrocketing – and bigger birds will be rarer.


By Zoe Han

Nearly a quarter of people said they were stressed about paying for their Thanksgiving meal, according to a Morning Consult report.

It’s time to break a leg — a turkey leg. Thanksgiving turkeys and dinners won’t be cheap this year.

Families are ready to get back together after more than two years of the COVID-19 pandemic, but rising prices could hurt their Thanksgiving plans. The annual inflation rate in the United States was 8.2% in September, according to the latest government data.

Additionally, overall food prices rose 11.2 percent on an annual basis in September, the government said, with food prices rising 13 percent. Some low-income households have changed their eating habits to cut costs, while middle-income households have reduced discretionary spending.

Wholesale turkey prices topped $1.80 a pound in October, up more than 40 cents a pound from a year ago, according to the Agriculture Department. Bird flu has hurt the industry’s supply of turkeys and record feed prices have helped push prices higher, said Al Jansen, executive vice president of sales and marketing at Butterball, a major turkey producer.

This year, bird flu persisted into the fall, much later than in previous years, experts say. This means greater damage to bird production: for example, it has already had a significant impact on egg production, causing prices to rise sharply this year.

It also means larger turkeys will be harder to find, as they’re a little more prone to the flu, experts said.

Larger male turkeys, or “toms” — those weighing 16 to 24 pounds or more — are typically used for deli meats, and they’re rare, said Brian Earnest, chief animal protein economist at CoBank, a national cooperative. bank serving industries across rural America.

On average, the toms weigh about a pound, or 3%, less than last year, Earnest added. This will put pressure on the supply of all the large turkeys that are popular for large family gatherings at Thanksgiving, he said.

“Some of the turkeys that are being raised right now for Thanksgiving may not have all the time they need to grow to 20 pounds,” U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said on a call Tuesday. press, Axios reported.

But there’s no need to worry about scoring a Thanksgiving turkey, he said. “It will be there, maybe smaller, but it will be there,” Vilsack said.

So how much are people willing to shell out for their Thanksgiving feast? Some 28% of people plan to spend up to $100 this year, while 57% say they will spend between $100 and $200, according to a survey released last month by Personal Capital, a digital wealth management firm whose headquarters are in Redwood, California.

Families are under pressure to stick to tradition. “Either way, some Thanksgiving dinners won’t be complete without a few essentials,” the report says. “Turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes, stuffing, sweet potatoes, rolls and green beans all made it into the top 12 dishes Americans would never cut from the menu.”

Still, the celebration this year doesn’t seem to be diminishing: Most Americans (87%) plan to celebrate Thanksgiving, down from 83% last year, according to market research firm Morning Consult. However, 22% said they were stressed about paying for a meal on Thanksgiving Day. (Another 37% said they were excited.)

Millennials and Generation X are generally more likely to be concerned about their holiday finances, the report finds. “This stress will only grow as holiday dining opportunities approach and shoppers face the reality of high prices on grocery store shelves,” Morning Consult said.

Here’s how to enjoy the day, without putting too much of a strain on your finances:

Make a financial plan and stick to it

Many people are more worried about their finances than they were a year ago, Morning Consult said. Some 51% of adults earning less than $50,000 a year “somewhat/strongly agree” that they worry about their finances, compared to 45% of those earning between $50,000 and $99,000 and 34% of those earning more than $100,000 a year.

Compare your income and expenses with the same period last year and make any necessary adjustments, said Nadia Fernandez, certified financial planner and financial coach at Financial Finesse, a workplace financial wellness coaching provider based in El Segundo, California.

Indeed, dealing with a changing financial situation head-on will help Thanksgiving Day hosts come up with a plan that fits their budget, Fernandez said.

Save on turkeys

Some employers offer discounts on holiday groceries, Fernandez said. Sometimes retailers give out free turkeys if shoppers spend a certain amount.

There are also alternatives to buying fresh produce. Frozen turkeys will be easier to find than fresh ones, Earnest said. Frozen birds are usually processed at the start of the year, i.e. before avian flu affects 2022 production.

While consumers can already find frozen turkeys in stores, Butterball’s fresh ones are expected to hit stores the week of Nov. 12, Jansen said.

“If the size of the turkey is important to you, get out early to buy it,” he added.

MarketWatch has more here for where to find deals from retailers for free turkeys this Thanksgiving.

Reduce meal costs without compromising on enjoyment

Nearly nine out of 10 people in the United States plan to celebrate Thanksgiving this year, and of those who celebrate, 85% of hosts plan to have a turkey as their centerpiece, according to Butterball’s 2022 Thanksgiving Outlook Report.

As people look forward to reuniting with friends and loved ones at Thanksgiving, half of hosts said they were concerned about inflation, said Rebecca Welch, director of brand marketing for the turkey-based producer. in Garner, North Carolina.

But people “will also get creative with ways to cut costs that don’t compromise a memorable Thanksgiving,” she added.

Here’s how they plan to get around this problem, according to the Butterball report:

That last point — involving guests in meal preparation — is key to saving money without reducing the fun, Fernandez told MarketWatch. “Think potlucks, bring your own bottle — or have an appetizer-only party, since finger foods are cheaper,” she said.

-Zoe Han


(END) Dow Jones Newswire

11-04-22 1702ET

Copyright (c) 2022 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.


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