Thanksgiving meals could be most expensive on record this year. Here’s why

Ingredients for festive meal all significantly more expensive in 2021

Graeme Massie
Los Angeles
Tuesday 26 October 2021 18:35
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Supply chain shortage could impact Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving dinner could be the most expensive ever amid sharply rising inflation rates in the United States.

Nearly every item that goes into the traditional spread and helps prepare it will cost more this year, according to experts.

“When you go to the grocery store and it feels more expensive, that’s because it is,” Veronica Nigh, senior economist at the American Farm Bureau Federation, told CBS’ MoneyWatch.

Food prices are up 3.7 per cent in 2021 so far, with a turkey and all the trimmings expected to cost four to five per cent more than in 2020, when the cost of preparing the meal came in at around $47.

But supply chain bottlenecks, increased transportation costs and a labour shortage is driving up the cost.

“Agriculture is like everybody else – it’s impacted by the supply restraints we’ve seen,” said Ms Nigh.

The country’s meat supply, which is held in cold storage plants, is at a lower level than normal because of processing disruptions during the pandemic.

And Americans, who were stuck at home for such a long period, cooked more than ever, increasing the demand for meat and sending prices higher.

The consumer price index, which measures the average price of consumer products and services, such as food, medical care or transport, was up by 0.4 per cent last month, 0.1 per cent higher than forecasted.

That meant a year-on-year increase of 5.4 per cent compared to 2020.

Bacon was up by 19 per cent in price, beef 17 per cent, gasoline by 42 per cent and used cars by 24 per cent from September 2020 to September 2021.

But experts say that while Thanksgiving fixings may be more expensive this year, they should be widely available.

“You might pay more for it than you want, but you will be able to find it,” added Ms Nigh.

The US Department of Agriculture’s turkey hatchery estimates point to a very normal production year for the birds.

And farmers, predicting increased demand, kept the birds on feed longer than normal to produce bigger birds.

Turkeys are more expensive than normal because the price of corn they are fed on more than doubled in some parts of the US between July 2020 and July 2021.

DOA data says that whole frozen turkeys between eight and 16 pounds already cost more than 25 cents a pound more than they did in 2020.

Packaged dinner rolls are also expected to be more expensive because the cost of ingredients has risen, and canned cranberry sauce will also cost more because China is limiting steel production and US steel plants are still catching up after pandemic shutdowns.

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