Foodservice

Thanksgiving Food Will Cost More This Year, Surveys Show

IRI, AFB report 13.5%, 20% increase in holiday meal price tag, respectively
Food thanksgiving dinner table
Image: Shutterstock

CHICAGO — IRI’s Thanksgiving Tracker 2022 shows a 13.5% jump in food for Thanksgiving over last year. For its latest trends report, the company tracked a variety of holiday-related items to determine price, availability and demand leading up to Thanksgiving.

“These key insights will enable retailers and manufacturers to make more informed decisions about merchandising and promotions to drive growth and profitability, and to deliver for shoppers during one of the largest food holidays of the year,” the Chicago-based company said.

Alastair Steel, executive, IRI Client Engagement, said that despite the significant effect of inflation, consumers are excited to return to pre-pandemic holiday celebrations, “and many will be participating in the Thanksgiving holiday by purchasing the same amount of groceries as they typically do.”

“This year, consumers are planning further ahead for Thanksgiving than ever before, picking up staple items as they see promotions that fit within their budgets,” he added. “The weeks leading up to Thanksgiving will be a tremendous opportunity for CPG [consumer packaged goods] brands and grocery retailers, and recent data will empower optimization on promotions and advertising strategies for key products.”

IRI tracked the top Thanksgiving-related grocery categories based on data for the week ending Oct. 16. The key findings:

  • Big celebrations are back, and 76% said they will celebrate Thanksgiving in the way they typically celebrated it before COVID-19
  • More young people are participating in Thanksgiving. The pandemic empowered a new generation of cooks, and more young people will prepare a holiday meal or host a celebration among family or friends. There will be an average of 7.4 people at the Thanksgiving table this year, but that number jumps to 9.8 for Gen Z and younger millennials (under the age of 32).
  • 23% of millennials and Gen X consumers (compared with 10% of older consumers), worry inflation might make them unable to afford their usual holiday celebrations.
  • 18% of consumers will likely start shopping earlier than usual.
  • 33% will look for deals on Thanksgiving meal items before the holiday week and make spot purchases as they see them go on sale or have a coupon.
  • 38% expect to pay more for Thanksgiving-related items this year but will buy the same amount.

Thanksgiving is one of the largest food holidays in the United States, IRI said, and historically, many categories see a significant lift in sales leading up to Thanksgiving. This year will be no different; categories including baking, beverages, meat (both turkey and ham), sides and pies are expected to see a significant volume lift. The inflation rate from a year ago for various categories is:

  • Baking: Up 11.1%
  • Beverages (alcohol and nonalcohol): Up 5.8%
  • Meat: Up 8.1%
  • Pies: Up 20.3%
  • Sides: Up 18.8%

Up on the Farm

Meanwhile, the cost of the American Farm Bureau’s classic Thanksgiving dinner is up 20%.

According to the AFB’s 37th annual survey, this year’s Thanksgiving feast for 10, which is $64.05 or about $6.50 per person, is a $10.74 or 20% increase from last year’s average of $53.31.

The turkey costs more than last year, at $28.96 for a 16-pound bird, Washington-based AFB’s survey said. That’s $1.81 per pound, up 21% from last year. Other prices included:

  • 14-ounce bag of cubed stuffing mix: $3.88 (up 69%)
  • 2 frozen pie crusts: $3.68 (up 26%)
  • Half pint of whipping cream: $2.24 (up 26%)
  • 1 pound of frozen peas: $1.90 (up 23%)
  • 1 dozen dinner rolls: $3.73 (up 22%)
  • Miscellaneous ingredients to prepare the meal: $4.13 (up 20%)
  • 30-ounce can of pumpkin pie mix: $4.28 (up 18%)
  • 1 gallon of whole milk: $3.84 (up 16%)
  • 3 pounds of sweet potatoes: $3.96 (up 11%)
  • 1-pound veggie tray (carrots & celery): 88 cents (up 8%)
  • 12-ounce bag of fresh cranberries: $2.57 (down 14%)

The cost for the classic meal was the most affordable in the South ($58.42), followed by the Northeast ($64.02), Midwest ($64.26) and West ($71.37).

In recognition of changes in Thanksgiving dinner traditions, the Farm Bureau price survey also includes ham, Russet potatoes and frozen green beans, in an expanded holiday menu. Adding these foods to the classic Thanksgiving menu increased the overall cost by $17.25, to $81.30. This updated basket of foods also increased in price (up 18%) compared to 2021. The expanded meal (classic meal plus ham, green beans and Russet potatoes) was the most affordable in the South ($74.90), followed by the Midwest ($81.53), Northeast ($82.76) and West ($88.55).

The bureau’s classic survey menu has remained unchanged since 1986 to allow for consistent price comparisons. AFB volunteer shoppers checked prices Oct. 18-31, before most grocery store chains began featuring whole frozen turkeys at sharply lower prices. AFB calculated this year’s national average cost using 224 completed surveys with pricing data from all 50 states and Puerto Rico.

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