WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Holiday shoppers can expect
less-expensive turkeys and moderate price increases on other Thanksgiving
staples this holiday season, a Purdue Extension agricultural economist
In the U.S., average annual food price inflation is about
2.5 percent, but this year grocery food prices are running just 1 percent higher
than 2012 prices.
“There’s a lot of good news out there for the consumer. Food
price inflation is very low this year,” Corinne Alexander said.
For the items most commonly associated with Thanksgiving
meals, Alexander said some prices will be up a bit and others will be down
“We’re expecting the overall Thanksgiving meal to be roughly
the same price as last year and, potentially depending on what sort of in-store
specials are being offered, you might even spend less this year than you did
last year on Thanksgiving,” she said.
Turkey, the main item on many Thanksgiving dinner menus,
should cost consumers less this year. The U.S. Department of Agriculture is
predicting that wholesale prices for Eastern market whole turkeys will be
between $1 and $1.06 per pound in the fourth quarter, compared with $1.06 per
pound in 2012.
Alexander said it’s important for consumers to remember that
the way wholesale prices translate to retail prices depends on individual
retailers. The actual price paid also will vary depending on whether a shopper
chooses a whole turkey or turkey parts; frozen or fresh birds; fresh, precooked
or complete turkey meals; brand names; and the value of store coupons and price
Often grocers will offer turkeys at a deep discount to
encourage shoppers to purchase their other Thanksgiving items at a particular
store, Alexander said.
“Because turkey is a favorite loss leader, that’s one of
those items where savvy shoppers can look to coupons and store specials to
really find the best price possible for their Thanksgiving turkey, and then the
rest of the items for their Thanksgiving meal,” she said.
Prices for other Thanksgiving staples will be a bit of a
mixed bag. For example, cranberry prices are expected to be on par with last
An abundant crop should keep prices from increasing, while
strong demand will keep them from decreasing.
Sweet potatoes, another in-demand item, are expected to cost
consumers about 10 percent more than they did in 2012. White potato prices also
are up by about 15 percent this year compared with the record low prices last
On average, Americans spend about 10 percent of their
incomes for food. Alexander said that the below average price increases this
year could mean there’s room in the family budget to add treats to the holiday
But families affected by unemployment or minimal wage
increases could spend up to 25 percent of their incomes on food. “For these
families, any food price rise is significant,” Alexander said. “We should
remember those who are less fortunate and share our food bounty.”
When it comes to preparing this year’s Thanksgiving feasts,
consumers will pay more for energy than they did in 2012. Natural gas prices
have increased by about 5 percent and electricity prices by about 3 percent
since last fall.
Those traveling for a holiday meal will get some relief at
the pump. Gasoline prices are down about 8 percent compared with last year.