Food, transportation, heating: inflation takes a bite out of Thanksgiving

Everything involved in celebrating this American holiday has gotten more expensive, except for one Thanksgiving staple

From concert tickets to gasoline, inflation has made almost every aspect of daily life more expensive in the US this year. Unfortunately, that also includes producing the much-savored Thanksgiving Day meal and gathering to eat it.

Rising food costs in the US have made the celebratory spread more expensive to procure – and cook.

A report from market research firm IRI predicted that Thanksgiving dinners will cost 13.5% more to produce this year than the year before, based on October data, reported CNN.

Other surveys drew similar conclusions. The American Farm Bureau Federation’s annual Thanksgiving cost survey estimated that it would cost almost $11 more to produce the annual meal, from $53.31 for a family of 10 in 2021 to $64.05, reported Axios.

Ingredients across the board are costing consumers more.

Turkeys, traditionally the centerpiece on most Thanksgiving Day tables, have gotten more expensive due to inflation and an avian flu outbreak affecting poultry across the country.

The average cost of a 16-pound bird has gone up by almost 21% since 2021, the bureau found.

Shoppers for the survey said turkey prices have come down since mid-October, as more whole frozen turkeys came into grocery store chains in bulk.

Even the price of the humble potato, perhaps the most popular side dish for Thanksgiving, is up by 19.9%.

Pie shells and eggs, two key ingredients in this season’s desserts, have both increased in price by double percentage points: 26% and 74.7% respectively.

This year’s cost was the highest for a Thanksgiving dinner in the 37 years that the American Farm Bureau Federation has conducted the survey, reported the Hill.

The only food that has been spared the painful increase has been fresh cranberries, which experienced a slight drop in price this year despite lower-than-expected crop outputs. Joe Biden even made a cranberry sauce joke at the pre-Thanksgiving pardoning of the turkeys this year.

Unfortunately, for those who prefer canned sauce, prices have increased due to costs that have to do with processing the fruit and its journey to store shelves, Tom Lochner, executive director of the Wisconsin State Cranberry Growers Association, said.

Some will feel the sharp increases in Thanksgiving meal costs more than others based on geography, not just income levels.

According to MoneyGeek, the cities where it is most expensive to produce a Thanksgiving dinner include Honolulu, Boston, New York City and Seattle.

It’s not just the food

Meanwhile, filling up at the gas station to go shopping or visit relatives and friends means a car-loving country on the move will be paying more at the pump than in many previous years.

Gas prices in the US peaked in June 2022, according to the Energy Information Administration, at an average of about $5 a gallon, compared with $2.42 in January 2021. Costs surged first as people returned to the roads post-Covid, and then again after Russia invaded Ukraine in February.

By this September, prices had dropped to an average of $3.77, but in October rose again to almost $4 a gallon.

Once the ingredients for dinner have been bought and the relatives have arrived, there’s the task of cooking, and the hope that diners gathering around the table will be in a cozy place – another set of challenges with higher energy costs.

Electricity, fuel oil and natural gas bills are all sharply up this year, with early winter weather hitting some parts of the US with record snow or just brutal chill.

There is no doubt that Thanksgiving is an all-around challenge for the pocketbook this year – and some will be gathering for the first time since the Covid-19 pandemic hit the US in 2020.

To that end, the US president, family doctors and public health officials have been urging more people to receive the latest coronavirus vaccine booster and flu shots, and to make efforts to stay as safe as possible this holiday season.


Gloria Oladipo in New York

The GuardianTramp

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