Plump price: Avian flu, inflation may force higher price for Thanksgiving turkeys

Not only is the country contending with high prices at the supermarket, but industry analysts are also warning another factor will cause the cost of this year’s Thanksgiving dinner to go up.

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An outbreak of avian flu has killed 4.5 million turkeys, or about 2.5% of the turkey population destined for the dinner table in the U.S., Forbes reported.

The first case was found in a backyard flock in May, according to the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture and Bloomberg.

The virus has hit 430 commercial and backyard poultry flocks in 39 states this year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service and CBS News.

Recently, a farm in Minnesota lost 50,000 birds because of the illness.

Analysts are now predicting that the deaths of the birds, along with inflation, which they said is the highest in 40 years, will cause the cost of the family turkey to be higher in 2022 than what shoppers are used to seeing in the past.

Egg prices have also tripled this year.

A CoBank analysis found that turkey breast meat prices have climbed 60% to more than $6.50 a pound, a record level, according to CBS News.

Last Thanksgiving, the cost for a 16-pound turkey was about $23.99 on average, or about 24% higher than in 2020.

The Thanksgiving price forecast has not yet been released for 2022, but economists believe it will be even higher, since the price of a fresh 16-pound turkey is about $29.92 right now, with frozen turkey costing $26.24 before it hits store shelves that will see the cost of packaging, shipping and labor added on, CBS News reported.

The supply issues are also expected to hit companies differently depending on where they source their turkeys from.

Jennie-O’s production plant is in Minnesota, part of the region where the outbreak has been felt the most. Jennie-O expected to have fewer turkeys this year than other years.

Butterball, on the other hand, sources its turkeys from the South, where there the outbreak was not as widespread. The company said that it plans to have more turkeys for sale this year compared to last year’s supply, Forbes reported.