by Bethany Torstenson
Digital Manager and Writer, John Locke Foundation
As Thanksgiving approaches, Americans prepare for a holiday marked by higher grocery prices this year.
In 2022, the Farm Bureau reported the average cost of a Thanksgiving meal for ten at $64.05.
Although 2023 figures are not available yet, the Consumer Price Index indicates a 2.4% increase in food-at-home prices this year.
Despite a decrease in turkey prices, rising labor and food production costs are pushing overall food prices up. For those who prefer or want to add ham to their Thanksgiving table, be aware that ham prices have soared to near-record levels, now at $4.56 per pound, a 5.2% increase from last year, according to Wells Fargo.
“If you prefer ham to turkey as your main dish, or like to have both proteins on the table, then you can thank the hog producers in the Midwest, who raise around 87% of U.S. hogs. … High feed costs and low hog prices limited expansion from hog producers this year, keeping pork production stable. However, don’t expect stable ham prices at the grocery store this year for the same reason explained for turkey.”
Wells Fargo also reports that wildfires and droughts are impacting crop growth, leading to higher prices for popular Thanksgiving side dishes.
Let’s take a closer look at some specific Thanksgiving essentials that you can expect to pay more for this year:
1. Sweet Potatoes
Nearly two-thirds of America’s sweet potato production occurs here in North Carolina! As a result of higher demand for this sweet, delicious, and healthy vegetable, the prices are up 4% from last year. The increase came from the cost of packaging and dramatic price upticks in both fuel and fertilizer, both essential in growing distribution and production.
2. Cranberry Sauce
Cranberry sauce is a staple at the Torstenson Thanksgiving table. My home state of Wisconsin accounts for most of the nation’s cranberry production, and intense Midwest winters have resulted in shortened harvest seasons, resulting in less product and higher prices, up 7% since last year.
Thanksgiving isn’t Thanksgiving without pumpkin pie, right? Unfortunately, you’ll be paying more to enjoy that Thanksgiving staple this year.
Canned pumpkin is up 30% from last year. Similar to sweet potatoes, fuel prices have made pumpkins more expensive to grow.
Tim Moser, owner of Shepherd Way Farms here in Raleigh, told CBS 17:
“We had a late summer. We planted and had to replant a number of varieties because of the cool nights in the early spring, early summer, and late spring. And so, pumpkins have been a little late in the harvest. …”
Locke’s Center for Food, Power, and Life strives to enhance North Carolinians’ lives through better access to food, emphasizing the importance of freedom in agriculture, energy, and the environment.
Kelly Lester from Locke’s Center for Food, Power, and Life will discuss these price increases on this week’s episode of The Debrief, airing Thursday evenings at 7:30 p.m. on Carolina Journal’s YouTube channel.
You can click here to subscribe so you don’t miss an episode.
As we embrace the spirit of Thanksgiving, I wish to express profound gratitude to each farmer, producer, and manufacturer for their unwavering commitment and tireless efforts. Because of them, our tables will be graced with a rich bounty this Thanksgiving!