Turkeys to be 24% more expensive this Thanksgiving, report estimates

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SALT LAKE CITY (KTVX) – This Thanksgiving, gathering the family for a turkey dinner is expected to gobble up more funds than in years past.

According to data collected by the American Farm Bureau, the cost of a turkey in 2021 has risen by 24% from last year, with an average price of $23.99 for a 16-pound turkey.

While the main attraction at the holiday meal had the sharpest increase in cost compared to last year, it’s not the only item expected to be more expensive. A four-pound serving of ham is on average $1.71 more, and other offerings such as pie shells, pumpkin pie mix, Russet potatoes, rolls, and cranberries all saw an uptick.

On the positive side, stuffing is estimated to be about 52 cents cheaper as compared to last year, says the American Farm Bureau.

The Farm Bureau, which has been doing its survey on the cost of Thanksgiving dinner since 1986, says the average cost for a home-cooked turkey feast for 10 is expected to cost $53.31 in 2021, a 14% increase from 2020’s average fee of $46.90.

Courtesy of American Farm Bureau Federation

Veronica Nigh, a senior economist for the Farm Bureau, says – unsurprisingly – that the continued pandemic and supply chain issues in the United States have combined to create the increase in dinner prices.

“Several factors contributed to the increase in average cost of this year’s Thanksgiving dinner,” said Nigh in a press release from the Bureau. “These include dramatic disruptions to the U.S. economy and supply chains over the last 20 months; inflationary pressure throughout the economy; difficulty in predicting demand during the COVID-19 pandemic; and high global demand for food, particularly meat.”

Despite the increase in overall costs, the report states that consumers who have yet to bring a bird home to prepare for the big day on Thursday might end up paying less. The USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service data shows that the advertised price of turkey started at $1.07 per pound on the week of Nov. 5-11 before dropping to 88 cents per pound the next week.

Depending on the size of your Thanksgiving turkey, you may be running out of time to thaw it in the refrigerator, which is the safest method, according to the United States Department of Agriculture.

For this thawing method, the USDA recommends allowing approximately 24 hours for every 4 to 5 pounds of bird. So, a 16-pound turkey will require around four days of refrigeration. Once thawed, the turkey will need to be cooked within two days.

Proper thawing is critical to ensure food safety, but if it’s already too late to get your bird in the fridge, two other methods are available: in cold water or the microwave. Both of these methods require cooking the bird immediately upon thawing.

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