Tuesday January 18th, 2022 5:55AM

Yes, there are turkeys for Thanksgiving - for a price

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

Turkeys may not be able to fly very far. But their prices can soar — along with the costs of other holiday staples like cranberry sauce and pie filling.

The Thanksgiving table hasn’t been spared the price inflation that is rampant elsewhere in the economy because of strong consumer demand and labor shortages.

The American Farm Bureau estimates a Thanksgiving feast for 10, complete with sweet potatoes, rolls, a vegetable tray and a pie with whipped cream, will cost $53.31 this year, up 14% from a year ago. It’s an unusual spike. Before this year, the annual cost estimate had been falling since 2015.

A more recent survey of grocery store prices by the U.S. Department of Agriculture shows a different basket of Thanksgiving staples up 5.5%, after stores started running more discounts.

“The inflation is real. Everybody is saying that. Everybody is feeling it,” said Butterball President and CEO Jay Jandrain. “Whether it’s labor, transportation, packaging materials, energy to fuel the plants — everything costs more.”

North Carolina-based Butterball, which supplies around one-third of Thanksgiving turkeys, struggled to attract workers earlier this year, leading to processing delays. While turkeys waited, they grew bigger, adding to already skyrocketing costs for corn and soybean feed.

But Jandrain said labor shortages have lessened and the company was able to secure enough trucks to get its turkeys to grocery stores. So there will be about the same number of whole turkeys as last year, but fewer smaller birds.

“The good news about that is everybody loves the after-Thanksgiving leftovers, and they are going to have more of them this year," Jandrain said.

According to the USDA, the average wholesale price of an 8- to 16-pound frozen turkey in mid-November was $1.35 per pound, up 27% from a year ago. Stores offer discounts to lure shoppers, and the average advertised price of that size turkey the week before Thanksgiving was well below the wholesale cost, at 93 cents per pound, the USDA said. That's still up more than 9% from last year.

For other staples, weather conditions compounded labor shortages. Pumpkin crops were smaller due to heavy rains and a fungus in Illinois — a top supplier — and drought in California. In early November, fresh pumpkins were averaging $2.72 per pound, up 5% from a year ago, according to Nielsen IQ. Prices for green beans were up 4% while canned cranberry sauce was up 2.5%.

Ryanne Bowyer of Dallas, Texas, usually buys turkey a day or two after Thanksgiving to save money. But this year, she signed up for Ibotta, a receipt-scanner app, which gave her a turkey, potatoes, corn, soup, gravy and cornbread from Walmart — all free — just for signing up.

“If that hadn’t come along, the plan was just to go to the woods with my wife and grill wieners,” Bowyer joked.

Still, many retailers facing cost pressures of their own are pulling back on their usual Thanksgiving promotions. In the week before Thanksgiving, the number of U.S. stores offering specials on turkeys was at the lowest level since 2017, said Mark Jordan, the executive director of Leap Market Analytics, which follows the livestock and poultry markets.

“There will still be some discounts, but some of the extreme giveaways are going to be fewer and farther between,” Jordan said.

Diana Jepsen, a retiree from West Hartford, Connecticut, said she usually pays $1 per pound for her Thanksgiving turkey. This year, her 23-pound Butterball cost $1.50 per pound. But she still thinks that’s a good value, especially compared to the recent price increases she has seen for beef and chicken.

Jepsen will celebrate Thanksgiving with 21 family members, including her 96-year-old mother. Her Cuban-American family bastes the turkey in a mojo criollo marinade. Jepsen’s husband, George Jepsen, the former attorney general of Connecticut, cooks the turkey, following his mother-in-law’s recipe. Other staples they serve, including black beans and yucca, haven’t increased in price, she said. Jepsen also got boxed stuffing on sale.

“We still think it’s a good bargain to be able to serve that many people,” she said.

Higher turkey prices could persist into 2022, Jandrain said. Feed costs remain elevated, along with labor and transportation costs.

That could help the turkey business, however, which for years has faced faltering demand for parts like turkey breasts and deli meat. The industry slaughtered 159 million turkeys in the first nine months of 2021, giving the U.S. its lowest per capita supply of turkey since 1987, Jordan said. Higher prices could encourage farmers to raise and slaughter more turkeys next year.

For some shoppers, availability — not price — was the biggest concern this year. Lauren Knapp, an economist in Rochester, New York, bought two frozen turkeys on sale weeks earlier than she might have because she worried about shortages. Knapp and her partner plan to make a practice meal on Thanksgiving and a second meal for relatives in early December.

“Friends in D.C. were saying it would be a chicken Thanksgiving because they can’t find turkey anywhere,” said Knapp, who was relieved turkeys were available even though some items she buys, like low-sodium turkey slices for sandwiches, have been harder to come by this year.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, Top General short headlines, AP Business, AP Business - Economy, AP Business - Financial Markets, AP Business - Industries, AP Business - Agriculture
© Copyright 2022
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
How COVID shots for kids help prevent dangerous new variants
Scientists say vaccinating kids should not only slow the spread of the coronavirus but also help prevent potentially-dangerous variants from emerging
10:02AM ( 21 minutes ago )
Yes, there are turkeys for Thanksgiving - for a price
First, the good news: There is no shortage of whole turkeys in the U.S. this Thanksgiving
10:02AM ( 22 minutes ago )
SUV driver in parade crash may have been fleeing a crime
A person taken into custody after an SUV plowed into a crowd of holiday parade marchers in Wisconsin, killing at least five people, has been identified as 39-year-old Darrell Brooks
10:01AM ( 22 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Biden to keep Powell as Fed chair, Brainard gets vice chair
President Joe Biden announced Monday that he’s nominating Jerome Powell for a second term as Federal Reserve chair, endorsing Powell’s stewardship of the economy through a brutal pandemic recession in which the Fed’s ultra-low rate policies helped bolster confidence and revitalize the job market
9:19AM ( 1 hour ago )
EU considers booster doses of J&J's COVID-19 vaccine
The European Medicines Agency says it is evaluating whether to authorize booster doses of Johnson & Johnson’s single-shot COVID-19 vaccine
9:04AM ( 1 hour ago )
Target to keep stores closed on Thanksgiving for good
Target will no longer open its stores on Thanksgiving Day, making permanent a shift to the unofficial start of the holiday season that was suspended during the pandemic
9:03AM ( 1 hour ago )
AP Business
World shares mostly higher as lockdowns, inflation loom
Markets have opened higher in Europe after a mixed day of trading in Asia
4:35AM ( 5 hours ago )
Asian shares mixed after China warning on risks, stagflation
Stocks are mixed in Asia after ending mostly lower on Wall Street Friday, despite the Nasdaq’s first close above 16,000
1:39AM ( 8 hours ago )
Ex-protester, far-right lawmaker to meet in Chilean runoff
A conservative lawmaker with a history of defending Chile’s military dictatorship and a former student protest leader are headed to a polarizing presidential runoff after failing to garner enough votes to win the country’s election outright
12:04AM ( 10 hours ago )
AP Business - Economy
El Salvador to build cryptocurrency-fueled "Bitcoin City"
El Salvador President Nayib Bukele says his government will build an oceanside “Bitcoin City” at the base of a volcano
10:44AM ( 23 hours ago )
Stocks end mostly lower, but tech gains push Nasdaq higher
Stocks closed mostly lower on Wall Street Friday, though gains for several tech companies pushed the Nasdaq composite to another record high and its first close over 16,000 points
5:10PM ( 2 days ago )
Stocks wobble as Wall Street heads for a mixed weekly finish
Stocks wobbled in afternoon trading on Wall Street Friday and major indexes were on track for a mixed finish to a choppy week
3:44PM ( 2 days ago )
AP Business - Financial Markets
Thailand's DTAC and True to merge, pursue tech businesses
Thailand's DTAC and True Corp. plan a merger that they say will create an “equal partnership" for pursuing opportunities in the tech sector
6:21AM ( 4 hours ago )
Austria begins national lockdown to fight surging infections
Austria has gone into a nationwide lockdown to combat skyrocketing coronavirus infections
7:24PM ( 15 hours ago )
Mulled wine, Xmas vibes: Austrians enjoy day before lockdown
Austrians are enjoying a last day out in coffeehouses and at Christmas markets before the government imposes a nationwide lockdown to combat a fourth surge of coronavirus infections
11:55AM ( 22 hours ago )
AP Business - Industries
Bowing to protests, India's Modi agrees to repeal farm laws
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that he would repeal the controversial agriculture laws that sparked yearlong protests from tens of thousands of farmers and posed a significant challenge to his administration
9:36AM ( 3 days ago )
Modi vows to repeal India farm laws after prolonged protests
India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi says his government will withdraw the controversial agriculture laws that prompted yearlong protests from tens of thousands of farmers and posed a significant political challenge to his administration
5:46AM ( 3 days ago )
India to repeal controversial farm laws that led to protests
India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said his government will withdraw the controversial farm laws that prompted year-long protests from tens of thousands of farmers who said the laws will shatter their livelihoods
11:30PM ( 3 days ago )
AP Business - Agriculture
How COVID shots for kids help prevent dangerous new variants
Scientists say vaccinating kids should not only slow the spread of the coronavirus but also help prevent potentially-dangerous variants from emerging
10:02AM ( 21 minutes ago )
SUV driver in parade crash may have been fleeing a crime
A person taken into custody after an SUV plowed into a crowd of holiday parade marchers in Wisconsin, killing at least five people, has been identified as 39-year-old Darrell Brooks
10:01AM ( 23 minutes ago )
New this week: 'Becoming Cousteau,' Gaga and Tony Bennett
This week’s new entertainment releases include the first ever album of covers by Deep Purple, an acclaimed documentary about undersea explorer Jacques-Yves Cousteau on Disney+ and a concert video of Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga
9:54AM ( 29 minutes ago )
Stocks move higher after Biden taps Powell for new Fed term
Stocks are moving solidly higher in early trading on Wall Street at the beginning of a holiday-shortened week
9:49AM ( 34 minutes ago )
Probe finds 'overwhelming evidence' of misconduct by Cuomo
A legislative investigation has found “overwhelming evidence” that former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo engaged in sexual harassment and ordered state workers to help produce his book during work hours
9:48AM ( 35 minutes ago )