Shoppers across the country have been warned for months to expect higher grocery prices when shopping for this year’s Thanksgiving dinner.
However, an annual survey of grocery store prices by the Wisconsin Farm Bureau shows that Wisconsini residents, on average, have experienced smaller price increases.
The informal survey of 15 common foods found that the price of a Thanksgiving meal for 10 people was $74.54, about 4.3 percent more than in 2021. Nationally, the average for the same meal increased by 18, 3 percent to $81.30 to the American Farm Bureau Federation.
Cassie Sonnentag, press secretary for the Wisconsin Farm Bureau, said Wisconsin has seen lower prices due to the state’s proximity to the farmers at the heart of the meal.
“A lot of hog farmers and turkey farmers are in the Wisconsin-Minnesota-Iowa area,” Sonnentag said. “So a lot of this food needs less transportation, and therefore less fuel and less transportation costs. So that helps bring costs down here in Wisconsin.”
She said turkey prices have also increased significantly in Wisconsin over the past year due to a limited supply of birds being raised at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The survey found that the price for a 16-pound turkey in Wisconsin this year was almost a dollar less than in 2021, at $27.52.
The American Farm Bureau survey found that the median price was $28.96, an increase of nearly 21 percent from a year earlier. But the US Department of Agriculture recently released its own data showing current turkey prices may in fact be lower.
The USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service found that the price of a large fresh turkey was just 2 cents a pound, or a 1 percent increase over last year’s price. A large frozen turkey costs 9 cents a pound more than last year, an increase of about 10 percent.
NPR reported that the American Farm Bureau’s survey was conducted in October, while the USDA’s price review was conducted more recently, when most grocery chains put whole frozen turkeys on sale.
The USDA press release said that in addition to inflation, prices for Thanksgiving staples have been impacted by the ongoing outbreak of highly pathogenic bird flu, Russia’s war in Ukraine and the drought in the United States.
Almost every food item in the Farm Bureau survey rose in price, from red potatoes to cranberries to cream. Only turkey, ham and frozen peas had a price decline as of 2021.
Sonnentag said it’s not just consumers who are feeling the effects.
“Fuel costs have more than doubled in the last year, fertilizer costs have more than tripled in the last year, and all of that feeds into the cost of producing our food,” she said. “That can definitely increase the prices of everything. And that goes hand in hand with inflation, which we’re seeing across the board in many consumer products.”
She said farmers don’t necessarily see more profits because of higher food prices.
The National Farmers Union released a report on the average farmers’ share of food dollars spent on a Thanksgiving meal this year. The annual report found that farmers are paid only about 6 cents a pound for turkey and about $1.30 for potatoes, which retail for $5.99. The farmer’s share of a 2-pound ham that sold in stores for $12.98 was estimated at $1.
With many families suffering from the economic hardship this year, Sonnentag suggests focusing on reducing food waste. She said finding creative ways to reuse leftovers could help extend this year’s more expensive holiday meal.