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Thanksgiving turkey price forecast

16 November 2018 David Deull

Shoppers will not have a bone to pick with turkey prices this Thanksgiving. After two years of increases, turkey prices are likely to take a dive. We expect turkey prices this November to be 4% lower than last year, a drop of about 7 cents per pound.

In 2017, turkey prices rose by a feather (up 1.9%) and in 2016 they soared with a 7.2% gain. However, turkey prices have been unusually quiet this year. While the typical seasonal pattern is for the price of turkey to increase as the year progresses, 2018 has been different. Consumers seem to have been losing their appetite for turkey compared to other meats, and the birds have not been flying off the shelves.

The age-old law of supply and demand is bringing no gravy train for US turkey producers, who have ended up with more on their plates. Their loss is a gain for families able to afford to invite more turkeys to the table. The average cost of a Thanksgiving turkey this year is expected to be about $1.49/lb., down from $1.56/lb. last year, and much lower than 2013's record high of $1.72/lb.

Many grocery stores will discount Thanksgiving turkeys even more heavily to lure in bargain-hunting shoppers in the hope that customers will also gobble up all the fixings. Those prices are a different story. Overall grocery price inflation has been positive on a year-over-year basis since July of 2017. Cranberries are likely to see even higher prices thanks to a ruling in September by the USDA that limits the volume of cranberries that producers can sell. But for the main course this year, nobody will be crying fowl. Americans will be stuffing themselves for less-a recipe for a happy Thanksgiving.

Bottom line

  • IHS Markit is forecasting 2018 Thanksgiving turkey prices to fall 4% compared to last year, after two successive years of price increases.
  • The average cost of a turkey this Thanksgiving is forecast to be $1.49 a pound, down from $1.56 last year.
  • We define the Thanksgiving turkey price as the November not seasonally adjusted Consumer Price Index US city average price per pound of whole frozen turkey.

Posted 16 November 2018 by David Deull, Principal Economist, IHS Markit

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