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Cost of Thanksgiving dinner expected to go down this year

The American Farm Bureau Federation said the cost of a Thanksgiving dinner is down this year, thanks in large part to turkey prices.
Jessica Cain
The American Farm Bureau Federation said the cost of a Thanksgiving dinner is down this year, thanks in large part to turkey prices.

TheAmerican Farm Bureau Federation said the average Thanksgiving dinner is down 4.5 percent from last year.

When you pre-heat the oven to cook your turkey, you can give thanks that cases of Avian Flu are falling. The AFBF said that’s the main reason turkey prices are an average of 5.6 percent lower than last year.

But Syracuse University professor of supply chain practice Patrick Penfield said some popular sides, like sweet potatoes and dinner rolls, are on the rise.

"The side dishes, a lot of it has to do with labor costs, in addition to food production costs,” said Penfield.

The AFBF study found some other sides, like stuffing, cranberries, and whipping cream, are less expensive than last year.

But if you’re planning to bake, Penfield said to expect to spend a little bit more.

"Sugar prices have gone up about 9 percent, so that's going to impact it,” he said. “Your spices, anything that you need for your condiments, your seasonings, that's gone up another 5.6 percent."

While this year will provide some relief, overall food prices are up double digits compared to before the pandemic.

“I think overall, the food supply chain is healthy,” said Penfield. “The big issue is the processing costs, the transportation costs, all the labor costs that are associated with food production. That’s gone up, and that’s probably been the major reason why food prices still continue to go up.”

Penfield said to save money, think about menu substitutions, like fresh green beans instead of canned, and spend some time comparing prices.

"It's all about competition. If you look at the name brands, those prices still go up. But if you look at generics, the store brands, a lot of times you can get a better deal if you shop and try to find that."

Also, keep an eye out for “shrink-flation.” Penfield said some products might seem to be less expensive, but they’re actually smaller amounts or smaller packages than before.

Jessica Cain is a freelance reporter for WRVO, covering issues around central New York. Most recently, Jessica was a package producer at Fox News in New York City, where she worked on major news events, including the 2016 presidential conventions and election. Prior to that, she worked as a reporter and anchor for multiple media outlets in central and northern New York. A Camillus native, Jessica enjoys exploring the outdoors with her daughters, going to the theater, playing the piano, and reading.