Consumers will spend more on the entire traditional Thanksgiving holiday this year, with turkey costing about 23% more compared to 2021, according to a new report from Wells Fargo, citing data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics and USDA.
While supply chain pressures remain, the main factors driving up the cost of Thanksgiving food this year are disease and weather, Brad Rubin, a specialty crops sector manager, told Food Dive.
This year’s bird flu outbreak continues to result in a tightening of turkey supplies, meaning there will be less available than on a typical Thanksgiving day. According to a September CoBank report, about 2.5% of the annual turkey population was lost in this year’s outbreak. Rubin said this year’s bird flu was worse than in the past.
“The virus doesn’t typically thrive in warm temperatures, but this season has been different,” Rubin said.
Weather issues impacted the growth patterns of various Thanksgiving crops, the banking giant said. In the Northwest, this year’s cool spring followed by rapid heat stunted the growth of several fruits and vegetables, including potatoes, onions and cranberries. The size and quality of this year’s Northwest cranberries may not be up to standards, analysts said. This year’s drought in California has also narrowed the supply of celery, carrots and onions grown in the state.
Consumers might decide to switch to cheaper alternatives for their Thanksgiving meal because of the high prices. And because potatoes can be more expensive due to poor growing weather, Wells Fargo suggests swapping them out for sweet potatoes, which have a surplus year. Other money-saving measures include buying a turkey breast as opposed to the whole bird, or buying a different protein like chicken.
“Any type of processed food will be an item that you can trade in, so if you want to make canned cranberry sauce instead of fresh cranberry sauce, this is a cheaper alternative,” Rubin said.