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Thanksgiving food prices are down slightly from 2022

Annual survey of grocery stores shows lower prices for turkey, dairy products. But overall cost of the meal is still high compared to previous years.

A family celebrates a meal ahead of Thanksgiving
Francis Garcia, left, leads her sisters Anna Garcia, center, and Olga Garcia in prayer at an afternoon family meal Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2020, in the family home in Sedro-Woolley, Wash. On any other Thanksgiving, dozens of Olga’s family members would squeeze into her home for the holiday. But this year, she’ll deliver food to family spread along 30 miles of the North Cascades Highway in Washington state. If the plan works, everyone will sit down to eat in their own homes at precisely 6:30 p.m. and join a group phone call. Elaine Thompson/AP Photo

A Thanksgiving meal will cost Wisconsinites slightly less this year than it did in 2022, thanks to lower turkey prices.

An annual survey of grocery store prices by the Wisconsin Farm Bureau found a typical holiday meal for 10 people cost $58.81 this year. That’s 80 cents, or around 1 percent, less than last year’s total.

Nationally, the average for the same meal was down 4.5 percent, coming in at $61.17, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation.

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Turkey prices helped drive down costs both nationally and in Wisconsin. The informal survey found a 16-pound bird in Wisconsin costs 96 cents less than the same meal in 2022, while the national average price was $1.61 lower.

Cassie Sonnentag, media relations director for the Wisconsin Farm Bureau, said the decline is mainly thanks to reduced spread of highly pathogenic avian influenza, which drove up prices last year. Turkey producers were reporting strong supplies of birds earlier this fall, which helped bring down prices.

Sonnentag said dairy products in the survey also saw price declines this year after increases in 2022.

“Last year at this point, heavy whipping cream particularly was at an all-time high in the history of these market basket surveys,” she said. “So we’re more or less just seeing those come back down to a level where we would expect them to be.”

A gallon of whole milk costs 61 cents less than last year, but still came in 19 cents higher than in 2021. A half pint of cream was down 53 cents from 2022 and 10 cents less than the 2021 price.

Cranberries, another major crop for Wisconsin, also cost about 6 cents less than in 2022. But Sonnentag said many other fresh items saw price increases from last year.

“Produce items across the board, fruits and vegetables, saw marginal increases statewide,” she said. “There are a couple of different things that come into play there: continued inflation challenges, as well as a summer-long drought.”

While the survey total may be down from last year, Sonnentag pointed out that the overall cost is still higher than the historical average for a Thanksgiving meal. In 2020, the same meal for 10 people cost $46.84. That’s $11.97, or 25 percent less, than this year’s total.

“I would say that it gives you a good look at the state of inflation and the state of input costs and how those are impacting farmers, food prices and shoppers across the board,” she said.

The National Farmers Union released their annual report on the average farmer’s share of food dollars spent for a Thanksgiving meal. It found that farmers only receive about 3 cents for every dollar spent on a turkey at the grocery store. Farmers receive around 10 cents for every food dollar spent on cranberries and 16 cents for every dollar spent on russet potatoes.

“As the years go by, it seems like farmers continue to receive less and less of the consumer food dollar,” said Darin Von Ruden, president of the Wisconsin Farmers Union.

He said farmers are still paying more for fertilizer and many other items they need to put crops in the ground than they were prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. But farmers’ share of food dollars has recently declined, falling below 15 cents for the first time in 2022.

With many popular Thanksgiving foods produced in Wisconsin, Von Ruden said consumers should try to buy products from farmers in their area if they want to ensure more of the dollars spent on their holiday meal goes back to Wisconsin farms.