Thanksgiving will be cheaper this year, thanks to waning bird flu

The cost of a Thanksgiving dinner for 10 is down 4.5% from last year, according to the annual holiday report from the American Farm Bureau Federation.
Thanksgiving prices 2023
The report showed that turkey wasn’t the only item on the menu that has dropped in price since last Thanksgiving. Seven of the 11 products analyzed were less expensive this year, while four got more expensive. / Photo courtesy: Shutterstock 

Despite high inflation, the cost of a Thanksgiving dinner for 10 people dropped 4.5% from last year to $61.17, due largely to a decline in the price of turkey, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation’s 38th annual Thanksgiving dinner survey

The report, released Wednesday, noted that this year, a 16-pound frozen turkey costs an average $27.35, down 5.6% from 2022. Turkey makes up 45% of the cost of a classic Thanksgiving basket.  

That price drop is due to a decrease the severity of the avian influenza outbreak, which began in January 2022 and has since affected nearly 59 million birds, according to the report. Cases peaked in March 2022 with 20.96 million birds affected, but that number had declined gradually to about 540 birds by September, an American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) market intel report in October noted. 

“Traditionally, the turkey is the most expensive item on the Thanksgiving dinner table,” said AFBF Senior Economist Veronica Nigh in a statement. “Turkey prices have fallen, thanks to a sharp reduction in cases of avian influenza, which have allowed production to increase in time for the holiday.” 

The report showed that Turkey wasn’t the only item on the menu that has dropped in price since last Thanksgiving. Seven of the 11 products analyzed were less expensive this year, while four got more expensive.  

Thanksgiving 2023 cost

Source: American Farm Bureau Federation

Thanksgiving ingredients that decreased in price since last year are:

  • Half-pint of whipping cream: $1.73 (down 22.8%) 

  • 12-ounce bag of fresh cranberries: $2.10 (down 18.3%) 

  • 16-pound turkey: $27.35 or $1.71 per pound (down 5.6%) 

  • 2 frozen pie crusts: $3.50 (down 4.9%) 

  • 14-ounces of cubed stuffing mix: $3.77 (down 2.8%) 

  • 1 gallon of whole milk: $3.74 (down 2.6%) 

  • 1 pound of frozen peas: $1.88 (down 1.1%) 

Thanksgiving ingredients that increased in price since 2022 include:

  • Miscellaneous preparation ingredients: $3.95 (down 4.4%) 

  • 30-ounce can of pumpkin pie mix: $4.44 (up 3.7%) 

  • 1 dozen dinner rolls: $3.84 (up 2.9%) 

  • 1-pound veggie tray (carrots & celery): $0.90 (up 2.3%) 

  • 3 pounds of sweet potatoes: $3.97 (up 0.3%) 

AFBF President Zippy Duvall said the that while turkey prices have helped make Thanksgiving more affordable, inflation remains a challenge for both consumers and farmers.  

“While shoppers will see a slight improvement in the cost of a Thanksgiving dinner, high inflation continues to hammer families across the country, including the nation’s farmers,” Duvall said. “Growing the food families rely on is a constant challenge for farmers because of high fuel, seed, fertilizer and transportation costs, just to name a few. 

“While high food prices are a concern for every family, America still has one of the most affordable food supplies in the world. We’ve accomplished that, in part, due to strong farm bill programs. Although our focus is sharing time with family and friends this Thanksgiving, our thoughts also turn to encouraging Congress to double down on a commitment to passing a new farm bill with a modernized safety net to support those who raise the crops and livestock that supply Thanksgiving dinner and every dinner.” 

The annual pricing survey also analyzed the cost of expanded menu items, such as boneless ham, russet potatoes and frozen green beans, which together increased the total cost to $84.75. 

The AFBF based its findings on price data from 245 surveys from volunteer shoppers in all 50 states and Puerto Rico.  

Broken down by region, the Midwest offered the most affordable Thanksgiving dinner for 10 at $58.66. The South followed at $59.10, while the West came in higher than the national average at $63.89 and the Northeast was the most expensive at $64.38. 

The expanded meal was $81.83 in the Midwest, $82.61 in the South, $87.75 in the West and $88.43 in the Northeast.

Grocery retailers around the country are focusing on value this Thanksgiving season, as consumers feel the pressure of ongoing inflation and other economic stressors. 



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