Why Thanksgiving turkey prices are up in 2022


The price of turkey is higher this year than in 2021. But shoppers likely won’t see a 17% increase like some data suggests because of widespread seasonal discounts.

Thanksgiving is right around the corner and many Americans have already been heading to grocery stores across the country to prep for holiday feasts.

Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) recently claimed on Twitter that Thanksgiving turkey prices are up 17% this year because of inflation.

THE QUESTION

Are turkey prices up 17% this year? 

THE SOURCES

THE ANSWER

This needs context.

The claim that turkey prices are up 17% this year needs context. 

Prices for certain types of poultry, including turkey, are up nearly 17% this October compared to last October, data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) show. But that number does not account for seasonal retailer discounts on turkeys that typically happen every November ahead of Thanksgiving. The increase in price is much lower with those discounts taken into account. 

WHAT WE FOUND

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) tracks the prices of everyday items to measure changes in the economy. In October, the BLS found the cost of foods considered “other poultry,” such as turkey, Cornish game hens and goose, increased 17% from October 2021 to October 2022. Blackburn and Cruz, who tweeted on Nov. 5 and Nov. 14, both cited this percentage in their tweets. 

But the BLS data does not account for retailer discounts on turkeys that normally happen in November ahead of Thanksgiving. 

Each week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) tracks the price of turkey by surveying supermarkets nationwide. In its report for the week ending Nov. 16, the USDA found that grocery stores are currently selling fresh whole turkeys for around $1.56 per pound — a 1% increase when compared to the same data from 2021. Meanwhile, frozen whole turkeys are selling for $0.96 per pound on average — up about 8% from last year’s $0.89. 

More from VERIFY: No, eating turkey does not make you sleepy

VERIFY also took a look at several weekly ads from supermarkets across the country, including Aldi, Giant, Publix, and Target. We found that each store’s turkey sale prices currently fall between $0.37 and $1.69 per pound for frozen and fresh turkeys.

So, while the price of turkey is higher than last year, most Thanksgiving shoppers won’t end up paying 17% more for their bird than they did in 2021.  

So why are prices higher? The USDA says farmers are facing higher costs overall this year due to inflation. Multiple outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI or bird flu) have also had a significant impact on turkey production in 2022, which is driving some prices up. 

Despite these factors, the American Farm Bureau says there should be enough turkeys to meet the demand for Thanksgiving.

More from VERIFY: Refrigerated Thanksgiving leftovers are safe to eat for 4 days

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