AUSTIN, TX— The cost of a traditional Thanksgiving meal is at a record high this year, but Texans might actually spend less.
Turkeys will take the biggest bite out of people’s budgets.
People across the country will pay on average 23 cents more per pound for a turkey, making this one of the most expensive Thanksgiving dinners in history.
According to the American Farm Bureau Federation, a 16 pound turkey costs just over $23—that’s up more than 6% from the national average last year.
The farm group blames the price increase on a bird flu outbreak. The avian flu wiped out more than nine million turkeys this year.
That drop in supply drove up prices throughout most of the country, but the according to the Texas Farm Bureau, turkey prices in the state held steady at $1.22; it’s 22 cents lower than the national average.
Some food banks in the state got hit with a turkey shortage.
“The amount of turkeys we get donated really never comes close to meeting the true demand,” said Mark Jackson.
The Chief Development Officer at the Capital Area Food Bank of Texas, Jackson said a private donor brought in 1,000 turkeys last week and now, there is only one box left in the warehouse.
The turkeys were shipped off to area food panties and quickly disappeared from shelves.
“We just know that there are still so many other families who aren’t going to have that nice, big bountiful meal you think of when you think of Thanksgiving,” Jackson said.
Food bank shortages are often driven by limited supplies, not prices, Jackson said.
The bulk of a food bank’s inventory comes from grocers and vendors who donate the leftovers from large food orders that don’t sell in stores.
Most of those donations come in after the holidays, but already it doesn’t look like there are enough turkeys to go around this year and donations are down.
“This thanksgiving is really important, and we want to provide that sustenance. But even more important is for us to be robust and healthy with our inventory all year round,” Jackson said.
Other food banks in the state are substituting in a different bird for dinner—Thanksgiving chickens.
“We just want to make sure we have access to enough food to feed people,” said Jackson.
Including the traditional side dishes on thanksgiving menus, like stuffing, sweet potatoes and pumpkin pie, the average cost to feed ten people climbed above $50. According to the American Farm Bureau Federation, that’s record high price for the holiday meal.
The Texas farm group says Texans will actually pay less this year. According to TFB’s report, dinner for ten in Texas will cost about $46.50 this year, down 30 cents from last year.
The TBF attributes lower fuel and grain prices for the drop in food costs — the second year in a row prices have gone down.