Thanksgiving Costs Rise

The price of a Thanksgiving meal in 2021 is experiencing a 17.25 percent increase this year according to Wisconsin Farm Bureau’s annual Marketbasket survey that rang in at $71.49.

The Marketbasket survey is an informal look at the price of popular food items used to prepare a Thanksgiving meal in quantities sufficient to serve 10 people. This survey allows for Wisconsin food prices to be compared with food prices from across the country. Comparatively, the American Farm Bureau Federation’s survey of the same items showed a 14% increase over 2020 prices nationally.

“It is no secret that the supply chain has been significantly disrupted in the past year as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic,” says the bureau’s outreach director Cassie Sonnentag. “Increased costs from processing to transportation have led to increased food prices, particularly in protein products.”

Wisconsin’s Thanksgiving Marketbasket survey is an informal, annual review of food price trends in relation to changing farm prices, weather and wholesale and retail food marketing. Wisconsin Farm Bureau members collected price samples of 15 Thanksgiving food items in November.

Farm Bureau volunteer shoppers were asked to look for the best prices, without taking advantage of special promotional coupons or purchase deals.

The centerpiece on most Thanksgiving tables — the turkey — is the driver of the meal’s price increase. Nationally, the price of turkey saw a 25 percent increase per pound from 2020 to 2021. In Wisconsin, that price saw a 40 percent jump. In addition to inflation, the price increase can be credited to several causes, including disruption to the supply chain, increased at-home food consumption and demand prediction.

“Predicting demand has been a challenge this past year,” says Sonnentag. “There was a 4 percent decrease in turkey production nationwide largely due to the uncertainty of gatherings due to the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2021. Turkeys are grown under contracts that are signed well in advance, which drove this year’s production decrease.”

While the price of the Thanksgiving staple remains high, it is important to recognize that grocery store promotions on turkey began significantly later this year.

“It is likely that shoppers will get a better deal on turkey purchases closer to the holiday than survey shoppers did earlier in the month,” said Sonnentag.

The USDA says Americans will spend approximately 10 percent of their disposable annual income on food, the lowest average in the world.

Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation is the state’s largest farm organization. Made up of 61 county Farm Bureaus, it represents farms of every size, commodity and management style.