Thanksgiving dinner 2021 has been hit by inflation: What you can expect to pay for turkey, potatoes

The American Farm Bureau Federation's 36th annual Thanksgiving dinner cost survey shows the average holiday meal costs 14% more than in 2020.

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It’s not just the turkey that will cost more this Thanksgiving.

Thanks to inflation and supply chain interruptions, nearly every ingredient in your holiday meal is more expensive, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation's annual Thanksgiving dinner cost survey.

The average cost of this year’s classic Thanksgiving feast for 10 is $53.31, more than $5 a person, the federation's survey shows. It's the priciest meal in the survey's 36 years and up 14% from $46.90 in 2020. 

Last year's meal was the cheapest in more than a decade as families skipped large gatherings and opted for smaller meals amid the coronavirus pandemic. But the price tag is also up 9% from a more normal-sized holiday meal in 2019. 

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The survey's shopping list hasn't changed since 1986 and is considered a record of comparative holiday meal costs over the years. Products on the list include turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes, rolls with butter, peas, cranberries, a vegetable tray, ingredients for pumpkin pie and whipped cream.

Of the 12 items included on the list, only one – 14-ounce cubed stuffing – experienced a decrease, dropping 52 cents from the 2020 price of $2.81.

For families who add ham, Russet potatoes and frozen green beans to their expanded holiday menu, this year's costs are up $15.41 to $68.72, the federation's survey shows.

Inflation is at a 31-year high and the price of food at home is up 5.4% over the past 12 months, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Nov. 10. The latest consumer price index shows an 11.9% combined increase in the price of meat, poultry, fish and eggs.

There are multiple reasons for the higher food prices, said Michael Swanson, chief agricultural economist at Wells Fargo, including supply chain disruptions, higher packaging and transportation costs, and worker shortages.

You also won't avoid a price hike if you eat out this Thanksgiving either. “Restaurant inflation is at a multi-decade high as well,” Swanson told USA TODAY.

Curt Covington, senior director of institutional credit at AgAmerica, told USA TODAY he doesn’t see any part of the Thanksgiving meal that will be spared from higher food costs.

“We’re spending about 5% more to buy food compared to last fall, and while that’s not as extreme as the inflation rate we’re seeing for housing or transportation, it still means extra money is coming out of your pocket,” Covington said.

Here's a breakdown of the costs of the key ingredients for this year's meal:


16-pound turkey: $23.99 or about $1.50 a pound (up 24%)

The Farm Bureau says its volunteer shoppers checked prices Oct. 26 to Nov. 8, about two weeks before most grocery store chains began featuring whole frozen turkeys at lower prices. Advertised lower turkey prices came later than usual this year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service data

Despite this year’s increase, compared with other meat prices, turkey is still relatively affordable year over year, Kevin Bergquist, a Wells Fargo food and agribusiness industry adviser, told USA TODAY.

The latest consumer price index shows beef prices rose 20.1% and pork 14.1% compared with a year ago, the largest 12-month increase since the period ending December 1990.

►Shopping tip: While many consumers have started shopping early with concerns over turkey shortages, if you haven't bought the bird yet, you should be able to find one at a lower cost than the Farm Bureau average.


12-ounce bag of fresh cranberries: $2.98 (up 11%)

The Farm Bureau shoppers found cranberries priced much higher, based on a recent USDA report. According to the USDA, the weekly average for fresh cranberries was $2.21 compared with $2.08 last year, a difference of 6.3%.

Canned cranberries also cost more. Datasembly, a real-time product pricing service, told USA TODAY that a 14-ounce can of Ocean Spray Jellied Cranberry Sauce cost $1.88 in October compared with $1.62 last October.

Sweet potatoes

Three pounds of sweet potatoes: $3.56 (up 4%)

The USDA also monitors the price per pound, which is up 6 cents or nearly 8%, according to recent data. The weekly average for a pound was 82 cents compared with 76 cents in 2020.

Russet potatoes

Five-pound bag: $2.96 (up 16%)

The federation's annual increase is higher, according to recent data from the USDA. The weekly average price for the big sack of potatoes was $2.40 compared with $2.23 last year, a difference of 17 cents or 7.6%.

Thanksgiving meal costs: Other fixings

  • Two frozen pie crusts: $2.91 (up 20%)
  • 30-ounce can of pumpkin pie mix: $3.64 (up 7%)
  • A half pint of whipping cream: $1.78 (up 2%)
  • A dozen dinner rolls: $3.05 (up 15%)
  • A gallon of whole milk: $3.30 (up 7%)
  • Miscellaneous ingredients to prepare the meal: $3.45 (up 12%)
  • 14-ounce bag of cubed stuffing mix: $2.29 (down 19%)
  • 1-pound veggie tray (carrots & celery): 82 cents (up 12%)
  • 1-pound of frozen peas: $1.54 (up 6%)
  • Heinz Turkey Gravy: $2.17 (up 9%)

Source: American Farm Bureau Federation; Datasembly

Contributing: Javier Zarracina contributed to this report

Follow USA TODAY reporter Kelly Tyko on Twitter: @KellyTyko. For shopping news, tips and deals, join us on our Shopping Ninjas Facebook group

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