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Can You Afford Thanksgiving This Year?

Bidenflation has hit every sector of the economy, however, because of the huge spike in petroleum and natural gas prices it has hit agriculture especially hard, putting a traditional Thanksgiving dinner out of reach for many of America’s working families.

The USA Today network reports New York Farm Bureau’s informal 2022 Market Basket Survey shows a traditional holiday dinner will cost you more than last year's meal did.

The average total price, which includes a 16-pound turkey and other common items found on a holiday dinner table, is $66.39, about a 26% increase over last year’s price of $52.59. The Farm Bureau’s volunteer shoppers found turkey prices to be about $1.89 per pound in New York, which is 43 cents per pound over last year’s average price. This price is slightly above the national average of $1.81 per pound although turkey prices may drop in the stores as the holiday nears, according to the Farm Bureau.

This dinner price represents the greatest increase since the survey began more than three decades ago.

Nationwide, the price increase is more like 20% CNN reported, citing American Farm Bureau Federation data.

A feast for 10 with 12 menu items including a turkey, stuffing, cranberries, and pumpkin pie mix will cost $64.05 on average — up $10.74 from last year. That breaks down to about $6.50 per person, according to the Farm Bureau’s annual survey.

Every Thanksgiving meal item tracked by the Farm Bureau rose in cost this year, except for one: cranberries. A 12-ounce bag of fresh cranberries dropped by 14% to $2.57. The biggest price increases were on stuffing, which is up a whopping 69%, and pie crusts and whipped cream — both up 26%, the survey said.

The Farm Bureau also priced out an “expanded holiday menu” with additional items: ham, Russet potatoes, and frozen green beans, which would add an additional $17.25 to a meal for 10.

The survey was conducted by 224 volunteer shoppers who checked prices in person and online at grocery stores across all 50 states and Puerto Rico from October 18-31. The shoppers looked for the best possible prices without using coupons or shopping deals, the Farm Bureau said. Shoppers in the western part of the country saw the highest prices while those in the South found the most affordable Thanksgiving menu items.

The price of a 16-pound turkey is $28.96 on average this year, up 21% from 2021, according to the survey. Inflation cooled last month but still remains elevated at 7.7% for the year ending in October.

“General inflation slashing the purchasing power of consumers is a significant factor contributing to the increase in average cost of this year’s Thanksgiving dinner,” said Roger Cryan, chief economist at the American Farm Bureau Federation.

But it is not just traditional Thanksgiving treats that are way up. PBS Newshour reports the cost of groceries rose 13.5% in the past year, the largest increase in 43 years.

When PBS’s Paul Solman asked Michigan State University agricultural economist David Ortega if he’d ever seen anything like this before, Ortega answered “Not in my lifetime, no.”

When asked to elaborate Ortega said:

First, we have the supply chain disruptions from COVID that are still lingering. Those lead to rising energy prices, rising transportation costs, rising labor costs. On average, 16 cents out of every dollar spent on food can be tied back to the farm.

Everything else, the vast majority, has to do with things like processing cost, transportation, the wholesale and the retail trade. And we have seen all of those prices go up.

Among the products cited in the interview:

Eggs are up 40 percent year over year

Wheat and processed wheat products are up just above 20 percent year over year

The cost of butter up close to 30 percent

Nishiki rice brown, previous price, $5.39, retail price $7.49

Coffee is almost 20 percent more expensive than last year

And Alberto Cavallo of Harvard Business School noted a “you just can’t win” phenomenon driven by the inexorable law of supply and demand:

We actually found that the cheaper varieties at the beginning of the pandemic have experienced nearly twice as much inflation as the most expensive varieties. And why is that happening? Well, as people are substituting into cheaper goods, they're increasing the relative demand. And that pushes prices up in this context of very limited supply overall.

But, there is one thing to be thankful for this Thanksgiving. As David Ortega noted in his PBS interview, “Places in North Africa, the Middle East, their food price is surging 20, 30, in some cases, even above 50 percent, so those countries in worse shape than what we have here in the U.S… We also look at regions in the Horn of Africa. They're on the verge of famine, and that's a very critical situation.”

So, while higher prices are busting American budgets, devastating paycheck-to-paycheck households, who spend a higher percentage of their budgets on food, we have the small consolation that at least we can be thankful we’re not as bad off as the Horn of Africa or the Middle East.

  • Thanksgiving 2022

  • inflation

  • Joe Biden economy

  • Bidenflation

  • fuel prices

  • transportation prices

  • wholesale prices

  • cost of living

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