You don’t need us to tell you that everything feels more expensive these days, especially food. But there might be one bright spot in your holiday meal planning, because your Thanksgiving turkey should be far less costly than you’d expect it to be, and it’s a win-win for everyone’s wallets during a notoriously tough time of year for many families.
According to Michael Swanson, chief agriculture economist with Wells Fargo Agri-Food Institute, “there’s been a big collapse in retail prices for turkey,” as he recently told CNN Business. “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.”
It seems that store prices for a 10- to 15-pound turkey have dropped 13 percent in October when compared to the same month last year, as Swanson explained. There’s been an even more dramatic 29 percent drop in wholesale turkey prices during the same period, based on Wells Fargo’s 2023 Thanksgiving food report, which hasn’t been released in full online just yet. The annual report analyzes top Thanksgiving essentials such as turkey, cranberries, and sweet potatoes, to determine the expected costs for consumers ahead of the holiday season.
Turns out, the reason for the price drop is that there are simply more birds than necessary this year, with an increase of 2 to 3 percent on turkeys added to the barn supply in July alone. There’s also more refrigerated trucks charging a lower price point to transport the supply to stores, a combo that keeps costs lower for shoppers.
Even if you’re not quite ready to buy your Thanksgiving turkey, Swanson notes that “historically we see a big drop in the two weeks before Thanksgiving,” which means the savings have only just begun.
As for other essentials, it seems that fresh cranberries will cost roughly 20 percent less than they did last year, but the canned kind could cost up to 60 percent more. That’s because increased packaging and labor costs are elevating prices for canned produce, generally speaking. Canned pumpkin and canned green beans will cost around 30 percent and 9 percent higher than last year, respectively. Sweet potatoes will likely see a 4 percent bump in price, “but the price is expected to come down before Thanksgiving as grocers become much more competitive with each other for consumers’ dollars,” Swanson said.
Here’s hoping the news will help as you begin planning and budgeting for holiday costs in yet another wallet-squeezing year.