Turkey prices have dropped by a lot as Thanksgiving planning ramps up

Nov 1, 2023, 4:35 PM

Drop in turkey prices could bring down the overall cost of a Thanksgiving home-cooked mean this yea...

Drop in turkey prices could bring down the overall cost of a Thanksgiving home-cooked mean this year. (Christopher Walljasper, Reuters)

(Christopher Walljasper, Reuters)

(CNN) — Something wild has happened with turkey prices that’s going to make the cost of cooking the Thanksgiving meal more palatable to families on a tight budget.

“There’s been a big collapse in retail prices for turkey,” said Michael Swanson, chief agriculture economist with Wells Fargo Agri-Food Institute.

“Because turkey prices are down so much, and that’s the centerpiece of the meal, celebrating Thanksgiving at home will be more advantageous this year for families,” he said.

Turkey prices down from this time in 2022

Store prices for the 10-to 15-pound turkey, typically the star of the holiday dinner, have dropped 13% in October compared to the same month last year, said Swanson.

The decrease in shelf prices for the bird also coincides with an even more dramatic 29% slump in the wholesale price for turkey this October versus a year ago, according to Wells Fargo’s new Thanksgiving food report, which was released Wednesday.

The annual report analyzes the outlook for key grocery items – such as turkey, cranberries, and sweet potatoes – that comprise the quintessential Thanksgiving Day dinner. Swanson said the data is pooled from a variety of sources, including point-of-sale data from market research firm Circana and wholesale prices data from the USDA Livestock Marketing Information Center.

But the big drop in price isn’t related to anything nefarious. It’s the American tradition of supply and demand, and this year, there are just way too many birds.

At the farm level, Swanson said the industry in July added 2% to 3% additional birds into the barn to keep the supply robust for Thanksgiving. On top of boosting supply, he said other factors helping to reduce the price per pound of turkey include a drop in input costs such as the cost of refrigerated trucks to move supply around the country.

“A year ago, refrigerated trucks were charging $3.80 per mile on average. Now, the most recent rate quoted by the USDA was $3.30 per mile,” he said. There’s also more availability of trucks, which has freed up supply and brought down the cost for the food industry, he said.

Prices could remain good through next month

Swanson anticipates consumers could get even sweeter turkey deals all through November.

“Historically we see a big drop in the two weeks before Thanksgiving,” he said, adding that 84% of whole fresh turkeys are typically sold in November.

That’s the period in which grocery stores deeply discount turkey as a “loss leader” item in order to drive shopper traffic during peak food shopping for the big celebration. People will come into stores for the turkeys, the thinking goes, and end up leaving with way more than they set out for – and way more profits for supermarkets.

The savings also come on top of moderating food price inflation.

So far this year through September, not adjusted for seasonal variations, grocery prices rose 2.4% — less than inflation overall, which was 3.7%.

Food price increases have been easing this year, offering much-needed relief for many households.

Paying less for the turkey could help offset still higher prices for some other components of the traditional dinner.

Looking at the rest of the meal, depending on whether you’re buying them fresh, or canned, cranberries might cost you a bit more than they did last year.

Other items

The report said fresh cranberries will be about 20% less compared to last year, while canned cranberries will cost almost 60% more from the same time last year. Swanson said rising packaging and labor costs are elevating prices for canned produce overall.

It’s the same story with canned pumpkins. Swanson said production costs for canned pumpkins are currently 30% higher this year from last year, and consumers are shouldering some of the price increase in store prices for the canned fruit.

And the price for canned green beans, on average, is up almost 9% versus last year, the report said.

Store prices for sweet potatoes are up about 4% “but the price is expected to come down before Thanksgiving as grocers become much more competitive with each other for consumers’ dollars,” said Swanson.

Russet potato prices, however, are at an all-time high.

“Consumer prices are currently up 14% from a year ago,” said Swanson. “Russets come out of the Pacific Northwest. A year ago the region had a tremendous drought, which cut supply,” he said. “Moving into this year’s harvest, it was a much better year, and so we’re expecting prices to drop.”

KSL 5 TV Live


A still from "Super/Man: The Christopher Reeve Story" by Ian Bonhãte and Peter Ettedgui, an offici...


Sundance film ‘Super/Man: The Christopher Reeve Story’ gets U.S. theatrical release

Sundance film "Super/Man: The Christopher Reeve Story" will get a special-even theatrical release in the U.S.

4 days ago

FILE - This combination of 2017-2022 photos shows the logos of Facebook, YouTube, TikTok and Snapch...

Matt Gephardt and Sloan Schrage

Scammers offer to help regain control of hacked social media accounts for a fee

People are advertising they can help you get back into your hacked social media accounts. It is a lie.

6 days ago

Utah Capitol where lawmakers passed a deal to possible raise a tax and quickly spend the money on d...

Lindsay Aerts

Lawmakers defend Sept. 1 contract deadline on downtown plans

The deal to raise Salt Lake City's sales tax to help house the new NHL team and revitalize downtown is moving fast and lawmakers are defending the deadline.

6 days ago

Ben Van Leeuwen scoops Kraft Mac & Cheese flavored ice cream Wednesday, May 15, 2024, in the Br...

Dee-Ann Durbin, The Associated Press

Sour Patch Kids Oreos? Peeps Pepsi? What’s behind the weird flavors popping up on store shelves

Van Leeuwen Ice Cream usually draws customers with gourmet takes on classics like vanilla and pistachio. But occasionally, the artisanal ice cream maker headquartered in New York slips in what it calls a “shock flavor,” like Hidden Valley Ranch or pizza.

8 days ago

ROHNERT PARK, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 17: In an aerial view, a sign is posted on the exterior of a Red L...

Michelle Chapman and Dee-Ann Durbin, AP Business Writers

Red Lobster seeks bankruptcy protection days after closing dozens of restaurants

Casual dining chain Red Lobster has filed for bankruptcy protection late Sunday, days after shuttering dozens of restaurants.

8 days ago

Abravanel Hall is pictured in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, May 8, 2024. Smith Entertainment Group, ...

Lindsay Aerts

Plan for updating Abravanel Hall estimated to cost hundreds of millions

Estimates for updating Abravanel Hall, home of the Utah Symphony, are estimated to cost over $200 million.

8 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Electrician repairing ceiling fan with lamps indoors...

Lighting Design

Stay cool this summer with ceiling fans

When used correctly, ceiling fans help circulate cool and warm air. They can also help you save on utilities.

Side view at diverse group of children sitting in row at school classroom and using laptops...

PC Laptops

5 Internet Safety Tips for Kids

Read these tips about internet safety for kids so that your children can use this tool for learning and discovery in positive ways.

Women hold card for scanning key card to access Photocopier Security system concept...

Les Olson

Why Printer Security Should Be Top of Mind for Your Business

Connected printers have vulnerable endpoints that are an easy target for cyber thieves. Protect your business with these tips.

Modern chandelier hanging from a white slanted ceiling with windows in the backgruond...

Lighting Design

Light Up Your Home With These Top Lighting Trends for 2024

Check out the latest lighting design trends for 2024 and tips on how you can incorporate them into your home.

Technician woman fixing hardware of desktop computer. Close up....

PC Laptops

Tips for Hassle-Free Computer Repairs

Experiencing a glitch in your computer can be frustrating, but with these tips you can have your computer repaired without the stress.

Close up of finger on keyboard button with number 11 logo...

PC Laptops

7 Reasons Why You Should Upgrade Your Laptop to Windows 11

Explore the benefits of upgrading to Windows 11 for a smoother, more secure, and feature-packed computing experience.

Turkey prices have dropped by a lot as Thanksgiving planning ramps up