Experts say your Thanksgiving dinner could be a little cheaper this year

Experts say Thanksgiving dinner could be a little cheaper this year

Experts say Thanksgiving dinner could be a little cheaper this year

That other great Minnesota get-together — Thanksgiving — could be a little cheaper this year.  

“Turkey can be a loss leader of all the groceries purchased for the Thanksgiving meal,” says Ashley Kohls, Executive Director of the Minnesota Turkey Growers Association.

A new survey by the American Farm Bureau Federation says this year, the average cost of a Thanksgiving dinner for 10 people is a little more than $61, or about $6 per guest.

That’s down 4.5% from last year.

“Retailers tend to deeply discount turkey to entice consumers and shoppers to purchase all of their groceries at the grocery [store],” Kohls explains.

Why cheaper this year?

The Federation says turkey accounts for about 43% of the cost of the holiday meal — and that the bird flu that broke out in early 2022 thinned out the supply of available turkeys.

“A year ago, Minnesota did really get hit with avian influenza, or AI,” says Kim Halvorson.

Her family has raised turkeys on their Rice County farm for the past thirty years.

“Once that’s found in a flock, the whole flock is put down,” she says. “When they do that, they do it for the safety of everyone around.”

The Turkey Growers Association says Minnesota is the number one producer in the nation and one out of every five turkeys consumed during Thanksgiving is from Minnesota.

Kohls says the industry is recovering — and that consumers will benefit.  

“The whole supply of turkeys the Minnesota Turkey Growers produced in a year was available this year,” she notes. “There was a greater supply, so that reduced the price.”

Still, the Federation’s study found the cost of the big meal is still 25% higher than in 2019, prior to the pandemic.

The survey says the price of some side dishes, like sweet potatoes, dinner rolls, and pumpkin pie mix are up this year.

Kohls says there are still lingering issues.

“Inflation and labor availability continue to be an issue,” she explains. “Labor costs are increasing, as well as fuel costs being higher than they were in 2019. All are going into the costs of goods.”

The Federation survey also found there are some cheaper sides: stuffing, frozen peas, fresh cranberries, pie shells and whipped cream.

But Halvorson says turkey, the main course, is a big draw for retailers.   

“Turkey prices flow with the markets, just like other meats and food products,” she says. “They’ll bring the price down, they’ll actually be selling it for less than they paid for it, but they’ll adjust the prices of the other items that might go into that turkey dinner.”