If you are hosting Thanksgiving in Kansas, rejoice: There’s nowhere cheaper to buy a turkey and trimmings in 2022.
A new Thanksgiving meal dashboard assembled by researchers at Purdue University finds Kansas the most affordable state in the union to procure ingredients for a Thanksgiving meal this year. A 12-person spread costs $70.89, on average, in the Sunflower State.
Inflation has pushed the average cost of a 12-person Thanksgiving meal nationwide to $80.06, according to Purdue’s Center for Food Demand Analysis and Sustainability.
Researchers estimated prices by visiting online supermarkets across the nation. The national average assumes a holiday meal will include a 16-pound turkey, at $33.31; five pounds of potatoes, at $9.93; two pounds of green beans, at $7.38; and a gallon of milk, at $4.54, among other expenses. The tab does not include bottles of wine or more extravagant sides.
The remote states of Hawaii and Alaska rank highest in average price for turkey and trimmings for 12, at $97.07 and $87.57, respectively. The balance of the top 10: South Dakota ($86.06), Nebraska ($85.43), California ($84.57), Oregon ($83.89), Colorado ($83.82), Nevada ($83.61), New York ($83.45) and Maryland ($83.33).
“It’s shipping,” said the manager of New Sagaya City Market in Anchorage, Alaska, who gave his name as Mike B. “We ship everything up by barge. And fuel costs are up, of course, so shipping costs are up.”
The most affordable states for Thanksgiving dining are mostly Southern. A meal for 12 costs less than $75 on average in Kansas, Georgia, Alabama, Missouri, Florida, South Carolina and Tennessee. Arkansas, Mississippi and Montana round out the bottom 10.
Organic ingredients push the meal cost to a national average of $98.89. Vegetarian options lower it to $64, with tofu subbing for turkey.
The new dashboard provides an alternative to the American Farm Bureau Federation, which has tabulated Thanksgiving costs for 37 years. Using slightly different methods and math, the Farm Bureau reported that a slightly downsized Thanksgiving meal for 10 will cost $64.05 this year, up from $53.31 in 2021.
Turkey prices are running as much as 20 percent higher this year, said Jayson Lusk, a Purdue economist who maintains the Thanksgiving dashboard.
“Why are prices higher this year?” he writes on his blog. “A potential answer is avian influenza (aka ‘bird flu’).” According to federal data, the disease has felled nearly 8 million turkeys this year.
Is this the most expensive Thanksgiving ever? The quick answer: No. Prices keep rising, but after adjusting for inflation, Thanksgiving dinner cost more in 1980 or 1990 than it does now.
Turkey consumption is in decline, down by roughly 1 pound per capita (from 16.5 pounds to 15.3 pounds) since 2017, Lusk reports. Demand for the meat seems to be dipping, possibly because of the pandemic, or perhaps as a matter of changing tastes.
“This downward shift in demand, coupled with higher prices, likely means fewer turkeys on the Thanksgiving table this year,” Lusk writes.