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Extension Service: Expect to pay more for Thanksgiving dinner this year

AUBURN UNIVERSITY, Ala.—Food prices are soaring over this time last year, and even the Thanksgiving turkey is not being spared. Turkey prices are at their highest levels since 2000, adding to what is already expected to be a more expensive celebration later this month.

Wendiam Sawadgo, an agricultural economist with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System at Auburn University, said several market factors are to blame.

“We have seen a notable decline in production, largely due to the Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza outbreak earlier this year,” Sawadgo said. “Rising costs of turkey production from higher feed costs due to high corn and soybean prices are another factor.”

This year’s decline in turkey production follows a similar decrease as last year, which led to worries over a turkey shortage in advance of last Thanksgiving. Despite the lower production, supplies should still meet demand for the whole birds typically consumed at Thanksgiving. It’s the price—around 25% higher—that consumers will notice.

Sawadgo encourages families to be creative when buying for Thanksgiving dinner.

“Thanksgiving is the largest food consumption day of the year,” he said. “As prices increase, browsing different grocery store ads to take advantage of special offers can go a long way to saving money.”

Food prices in general have risen 11% over last year. This includes eggs, fruits, vegetables and bakery products, all of which figure into a Thanksgiving feast. Sawadgo said planning ahead on what to buy and looking for sales on high-cost items such as turkey can help stretch your Thanksgiving dinner budget.

“Purchasing canned goods or frozen turkeys ahead of time can be other options if you have the space,” Sawadgo said. “Some stores offer deals for a discounted or free turkey with certain purchases.”

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