Thanksgiving dinner costs go up for Hoosiers

Hoosiers should expect to pay a little more for their traditional dinner this Thanksgiving holiday, albeit at a smaller 14% increase than the 20% national average.

The Indiana Farm Bureau reports that prices for a 10-person Thanksgiving dinner will rise to $61.00, up from $53.58 last year. Americans nationwide pay $64.05 for the same meal, up from $53.31 in 2021, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF).

This calculation includes a 16-pound turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes, buns, peas, a carrot and celery vegetable tray, whole milk, cranberries, whipped cream, pumpkin pie ingredients, and assorted baked goods.

The association identified ongoing inflation as the main reason for the rise but said supply chain disruptions linked to the ongoing war in Ukraine also played a role. Inflation in October was 7.8%, just below the summer high of 9.1%, but food prices continue to rise, hitting 12.4% last month.

“We see that kind of increase as a burden for some families,” said Roger Cryan, chief economist for the American Farm Bureau Federation. “Inflation is a serious problem that we’re trying to address… it’s robbing consumers and farmers of purchasing power and creating quite a mess in the macro economy.”

The association and its Indiana affiliate conduct their surveys by sending volunteer members to screen local grocery stores—either in person or online. The 37th survey will take place this year.

Turkeys get smaller but cost more

Although the price of a turkey is expected to be higher this year, by 21% compared to 2021, the association acknowledges that its market survey, taking place in October, comes ahead of November’s price cuts, made in anticipation of the holiday will. The increase in Indiana is estimated at 11%.

“One way to deal with these higher prices is to look for bargains … there’s a tendency — turkeys, for example — to get cheaper as we get closer (to Thanksgiving),” Cryan said. “Since we conducted the survey, the number of stores offering turkeys at reduced prices in their newsletters has increased, and these discounts are likely to increase.”

However, turkeys on store shelves are likely to be smaller this year after a strain of bird flu spread. In an Indiana Farm Bureau press release, Rebecca Joniskan said 50 million birds had died or been euthanized due to the virus, including 8 million turkeys statewide.

In Indiana, the virus claimed the lives of 171,000 birds, even though unlike other states, Hoosier farmers produce turkeys year-round.

“This year has been difficult for Hoosier poultry farmers both financially and emotionally,” said Joniskan, president of the Indiana State Poultry Association. “But despite these losses, we’re still a resilient industry. There are still many turkey products on the market.”

Rising, inflation hits farmers too

Noting that farmers are getting an estimated 8% of the retail price at grocery stores, Cryan said that when fertilizer prices triple and fuel costs double, it’s often not enough to cover their increased costs.

For example, although pumpkin harvests were comparable to previous years, the 17% increase in canned pumpkins nationwide can be attributed in part to higher labor, transportation, fuel and energy costs, according to the Associated Press.

Isabella Chism, the second vice president of the Indiana Farm Bureau, said those costs hurt Hoosier farmers.

“There is no question that it has been a difficult year for both consumers and farmers,” Chism said in a statement. “Farmers are used to being nimble and agile in a job that can be very unpredictable in terms of variables like the weather. But this year is different. Higher input costs presented a whole new set of challenges, all of which cost us more and trickled down to consumers.”

Hoosier prices weren’t consistently up — both cranberries and pie shells were cheaper this year compared to 2021. The biggest increase in Indiana was for the diced bread filling, which rose 64% for 14 ounces.

The association attributes this to higher packaging and processing costs due to supply chain disruptions and volatility in the wheat market.

But Cryan stressed that Americans needn’t worry about seeing empty shelves where there should be Thanksgiving staples.

“We don’t see any bottlenecks in general; We almost never see bottlenecks in the US markets. The exception, of course, is the early months of the pandemic, when consumer purchasing behavior changed so dramatically that it was difficult to keep up,” Cryan said.

This story comes from Whitney Downard of The Indiana Capital Chronicle, an independent, nonprofit news organization covering state government, politics and elections.

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