Your Thanksgiving Turkey Might Be Twice As Expensive This Year

A looming turkey shortage coupled with inflation means that an old-fashioned Thanksgiving is going to really cost you this year.

October 21, 2022
Photo by Julia Gartland

A looming turkey shortage coupled with rising inflation means that your Thanksgiving turkey is going to be hard to find and really pricey this year. Not only have food costs continued to creep up at an alarming rate thanks to inflation, turkey supplies are particularly tight thanks to a decision back in 2019 by turkey producers to cut back on the number of birds they raise after the price of turkey crashed. All this has been exacerbated by the ravages of avian flu, which killed 3.6 percent of the nation’s turkeys this year, reducing the number of birds available to purchase in the grocery store further, according to The New York Times.

What that means is that prices for turkey are going to be a lot higher than they were last year—in fact they could be as much as double. And it also means you might want to do your Thanksgiving preparations well in advance. LIke, yes, right now. “I tell people if they are going to buy one of our turkeys, if they see one in the store they better pick it up and put it in the freezer,” poultry producer Greg Gunthrop told The New York Times. He added that “I’ve never seen anything as crazy as the turkey market right now.”

If turkey is a priority for your Thanksgiving meal, it’s worth taking some extra precautions to get it this year. But if you’re open to Thanksgiving meals that don’t include turkey, there are still plenty of excellent options. Last year, former Food52 staffer Rebecca Firkser developed a $30 Thanksgiving menu with those with tight budgets in mind. Focusing on side dishes—a fan favorite anyway—is another good way to avoid the price hike in turkey. And, of course, you could go all vegetarian or vegan and avoid the fluctuations in meat prices all together, often the most pricey part of the holiday meal. But if you do decide to go the turkey route, and you manage to snag that coveted piece of poultry, we also have a few suggestions for how best to cook it.

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Margaret Eby

Written by: Margaret Eby

Editorial Lead of Food, Food52


bunka October 22, 2022
I have been tracking my Thanksgiving purchases and prices across 3 or more grocers since 2002 (I compare as many stores as I have time available that year). If I wanted to get a turkey for the lowest price, I have been able to find a turkey in November for at most $.77/pound. I do live in the Midwest, but the same price increase alert has gone up in local papers since at least 2019. If one is early or able to wait, the sales happen at some point in November. I also acknowledge the real repercussions of the avian flu to farms, zoos and our ecosystems (no official will comment but there are a lot of rabbits this year in our area). But I also just got my pre-order info for free-range local turkeys and it is priced the same as last year. Fun fact based on what I've recorded: If I use regular and sale prices 7-10 days before Thanksgiving, the actual price of my standard Thanksgiving menu has increased minimally over the last 20 years (I do add up how much it would cost to buy all ingredients at each big grocery store every year and can see the price changes that way as well).
Piggj October 22, 2022
I call bill on this. These companies are taking advantage of the American consumer and it is all about greed