- Inflation and avian flu are the main reasons consumers can expect to pay more for turkey this year, an expert says.
- The avian flu has appeared in 42 states and killed nearly 7.3 million turkeys in 2022, according to reports.
- The record high prices are expected to persist throughout the holiday season.
Thanksgiving’s star protein will be harder to find and more costly than ever for home cooks hoping to have turkey as the centerpiece of their feasts.
In a September interview, poultry industry expert Thomas Elam said consumers should expect “record turkey prices” for Thanksgiving in part because of an avian flu outbreak.
“We’ve had major impacts on turkey production and egg production, minor impacts on broiler meat production,” Elam told the interviewer. “And we’ve had general price inflation in wages and salaries, energy, and all of those are impacting our retail food sectors.”
According to the New York Times, farmers and processors are facing supply shortages and drought while having to pay more for feed, labor, and fuel.
This year’s avian flu is really concerning, according to Elam, because it’s more persistent and contagious than the strain that spread in 2015. So far, the outbreak has killed 7.3 million turkeys in the US, according to figures from the Department of Agriculture and Watt Global Media.
The avian flu has appeared in 42 states in 2022 and is continuing to spread as the holiday season approaches.
Elam predicted that Thanksgiving won’t be the only holiday marked with more expensive food. He said Christmas will be no different.
“So, the combination of higher wholesale prices and higher cost for everything the grocer is buying, including the cost of his labor force would argue that we will have record high retail turkey prices come Thanksgiving and Christmas,” Elam said.
Although the higher price reflects a lower turkey population this Thanksgiving season, Elam said he’s certain the birds won’t become completely unavailable.
“I think if anybody is willing to pay the higher prices very likely at retail stores, they should be able to buy a turkey if they really, really want one,” Elam said.
The current price for a 10- to 16-pound Butterball turkey is about $24.07 at Walmart.