Thanksgiving Dinner Inflation, according to the Consumer Price Index

  • Thanksgiving is just around the corner and inflation is what’s for dinner.
  • Turkey’s prices are as much as 13% higher than two years ago.
  • It’s not all bad – potatoes have only increased by 2%, and the apples for your pie have increased much less than total inflation.

Thanksgiving is going to be a real turkey this year, and it’s because of a very 2021 dinner guest who shows up to the party: inflation.

The latest release of consumer price inflation from the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed that prices in the whole economy rose 6.2% between October 2020 and October 2021. Inflation was broad-based, with prices for almost all goods and services rising during the last month.

Food prices are one of the major components of the rise in inflation, with groceries rising by 5.4% over the last year. With Thanksgiving on the way, we decided to take a look at how some of the components of a traditional dinner have fared since October 2019, the last pre-pandemic Thanksgiving season, based on the detailed CPI component data published by the BLS:

Turkey’s prices have risen by about 13% from two years ago, exceeding the 7.5% increase in total prices during that period. Ham, fresh dinner rolls and canned fruits and vegetables have also surpassed pre-pandemic general inflation.

That’s not all bad news – mashed potatoes, one of the most essential accessories for any Thanksgiving table, should still be affordable, with potato prices rising by only 2% over the last two years. The fresh apples needed for your grandmother’s pie are only about 3.5% more expensive than they were before the pandemic. Since


Federal Reserve

shoots for about 2% inflation per year, both of which are cheaper compared to what “normal” price increases would be than two years ago.

Here’s a look at how much more the ingredients for Thanksgiving dinner cost now, compared to 2019:

  • Turkey: 13.2%
  • Ham: 8.7%
  • Canned fruits and vegetables: 8.3%
  • Fresh biscuits, rolls and muffins: 8.1%
  • Frozen fruits and vegetables: 7.5%
  • Frozen and refrigerated baked goods: 6.8%
  • Sauces and gravy: 6.7%
  • Ice cream: 5.3%
  • Rice, pasta and cornmeal: 3.6%
  • Fresh apples: 3.2%
  • Potatoes: 2.0%

Food joins a host of other goods and services that have seen prices rise over the past year amid supply chain problems and an increase in demand. The pandemic changed Americans’ buying habits, and the large influx of stimulus money over the past year and a half has given families fatter wallets to boost demand.

Given the huge rise in turkey prices, this may be a good Thanksgiving to try something untraditional – pasta has risen by less than 4% over the last two years an Italian party could be in place.

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