Thanksgiving Meal Costs Most Ever as Bird Flu Hits Turkeys

  • Avian influenza drives turkey prices up 6.4%, farm group says
  • Holiday feast for 10 tops $50 even as milk, cranberries drop

The average cost of Thanksgiving dinner in the U.S. this year will rise to a record, topping $50 for the first time, as turkey prices jump 6.4 percent after the worst outbreak ever of avian influenza wiped out millions of the birds, a farm group said.

The 12 items typically served during the holiday meal will rise 1.4 percent to an average $50.11 for 10 people from $49.41 in 2014, the American Farm Bureau Federation in Washington said Thursday in a statement. A turkey weighing 16 pounds (7.3 kilograms) will increase to $23.04 from $21.65. Sweet potatoes, rolls, stuffing and pumpkin-pie mix and shells were up 1 cent to 8 cents, according to a survey by 138 volunteer shoppers in 32 states.

Bird flu destroyed more than 7.7 million turkeys earlier this year, government data show. The farm bureau said a gallon of whole milk will drop 14 percent to $3.25, and the bill will be lower by 3 cents to 30 cents for whipping cream, fresh cranberries, green peas, miscellaneous ingredients and a relish tray with carrots and celery. Thanksgiving is on Nov. 26.

Pumpkin Output

“Retail prices seem to have stabilized quite a bit for turkey, which is the centerpiece of the meal in our market basket,” John Anderson, the farm group’s deputy chief economist, said in the statement. “Despite concerns earlier this fall about pumpkin production due to wet weather, the supply of canned product will be adequate for this holiday season.”

Frozen tom turkeys were advertised at an average of 87 cents a pound at 20,070 supermarkets in the week ended Nov. 19, down from 93 cents a year earlier, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Many supermarkets are offering frozen turkey for close to 49 cents a pound as part of annual promotions to attract Thanksgiving shoppers, the National Turkey Federation said Wednesday in a statement.

Turkey losses from avian influenza were “held to 3 percent and disproportionately centered on a few states in the upper Midwest,” while other regions sustained output, the group said.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal. LEARN MORE