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The Real Reason Turkey is The Most Expensive It Has Been Since 2005

We may have to modify our Thanksgiving meal plan this year.

The start of the holiday season is upon us — Thanksgiving is just around the corner. Depending on just how passionate you are about turkey — and whether or not you’re the driver of the Thanksgiving meal — your stress levels might be through the roof right now. If you’ve been planning for the celebrations for weeks, you’re probably good. But for anyone who is putting those last-minute touches together, or hasn’t pre-ordered or picked up their bird, get ready to spend a lot of money on your turkey. Turkey prices have risen to the most expensive it’s been since 2005 and there’s one reason to blame: demand and limited stock.

According to Reuters, due to the pandemic, turkey farmers produced way fewer turkeys this year. “Farmers were cautious with production,” the publication reports, “figuring a second pandemic holiday could slash demand.” Since there are fewer birds to buy, the price of those birds has gone up considerably, making the birds the most expensive for consumers since 2005 (when the cost really began to be recorded annually.)

“Fewer turkeys were produced this year, so turkey meat prices have soared,” Reuters writes, “at a time [when] consumers are already grappling with rising inflation with the global supply chain stumbling into the holiday shopping season.”

Turkey farmers try to predict what the demand will be each season, and they have to make that decision about a year prior. With the pandemic predicted to still be an issue, farmers didn’t produce as much as they normally might. Added to that calculation was a somewhat unrelated, but ultimately related, skyrocketing price of soybeans and grains eaten by the birds, which meant a higher price point for the consumer.

According to the farmers, people still want to celebrate Thanksgiving. However many are opting for smaller birds, frozen ones, or just the breasts as a cost-saving measure.

“Frozen inventories of hen turkeys, female birds that are normally smaller in size, and turkey breasts fell to record lows this year,” Reuters says. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has been keeping a record of the price per pound of turkeys since 2005, and this year, turkeys are on average $1.44 per pound. Turkey is the most expensive it’s been since 2005 as a result.

It’s not only the turkey that’s going to be more expensive for the holiday season this year. Due to supply chain issues from the pandemic, grocers and manufacturers say that there are going to be barer shelves this year for certain holiday staples. This includes some flavored baking chips like butterscotch and peanut butter – but, if you’re more into a fudge pie, luckily, chocolate chips are holding strong. Other items like pie crusts, liquid gravy, cranberry sauce, and cream cheese of all things, may be hard to find this holiday. Plan ahead and you should be good — but don’t be too shocked if your Thanksgiving meal is overall far more expensive than last year (a record cheap Thanksgiving affair.)