“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 News, adding that overall, food prices are up 3.7 percent in 2021 against the 20-year average of around 2.4 percent.
Overall, a Thanksgiving dinner, including a turkey and all the different side-dishes, will cost between 4 percent and 5 percent more in 2021 than in 2020, she said. Last year, the overall cost of preparing a Thanksgiving dinner was under $47, which was the lowest since 2010, the Farm Bureau said.
The Biden administration earlier this month said it gained commitments from the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, as well as UPS and FedEx, to try and alleviate some supply bottlenecks. The Marine Exchange, which tracks container ships at the two California ports, said there are 105 waiting at the ports as of Tuesday. There were 98 container ships at the ports about a week before that.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the shutdown of meat processing facilities led to a lower amount of meat being kept in cold storage.
“Agriculture is like everybody else—it’s impacted by the supply restraints we’ve seen,” Nigh said, adding that about 10 percent of food costs are related to producing raw goods, while the other 90 percent involve distribution, wages, and other costs.
A U.S. Department of Agriculture report (pdf) released on Oct. 22 found that the price for frozen turkeys was already up from last year, while the price for fresh birds is also higher.
Nigh noted that the available birds might be larger than normal this year because producers opted to feed them longer in anticipating a higher demand for turkey meat.
“If you can’t raise more turkeys, raise turkeys that are a little fatter,” Nigh said. “You might pay more for it than you want, but you will be able to find it,” she also said.
Higher-than-usual inflation, meanwhile, will also factor into this year’s Thanksgiving. According to a recent U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics report, the consumer price index increased about 5.4 percent.
“Over that period, prices for food at home increased 4.5 percent, driven by a 10.5-percent increase in prices for meats, poultry, fish, and eggs. Prices for food away from home increased 4.7 percent,” the report found. Other food items like peanut butter, coffee, and bacon also saw significant increases year over year.