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MEMO: As Thanksgiving Approaches, Americans Who Want a Turkey Will Be Able to Get One

From: USDA
To: Interested Parties
Date: November 16, 2022

TOPLINE: With Thanksgiving fast approaching, America’s farmers and producers have been hard at work every day to ensure families can continue to put food on the table and celebrate with their loved ones. In particular, poultry producers have faced a number of challenges, including an outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI), which resulted in the loss of over 50 million birds, including over 8 million turkeys. USDA, states, and producers worked closely to implement a comprehensive, collaborative, and all-hands-on-deck response to this outbreak and ensure there is an adequate supply of turkeys for the holiday season, successfully ensuring that everyone who wants a bird will be able to get one.

Additionally, the Biden Administration has taken a series of steps to lower costs for producers and consumers as we prepare for the holiday season. In part because of these actions, inflation at the grocery store is easing for families across the country. The price of a large fresh turkey will cost just 2 cents more per pound than last year (a 1% increase) and a large frozen turkey will cost 9 cents more per pound than last year, with the ongoing HPAI outbreak, Russia’s war on Ukraine, and drought across the United States pushing up the price of Thanksgiving staples. Despite these challenges, the October Consumer Price Index Report shows a much-needed break in inflation at the grocery store as we head into the holidays, with food price increases coming in at a decelerating pace.

Under the Biden-Harris Administration, USDA continues to take every step it can to lower costs for producers and consumers.

Below are the average retail cost of Thanksgiving staples, based on AMS Market News Retail Reports (JPG, 187 KB) for the week ending on November 11:

Fresh Turkey Hen (12 lbs.) - $1.56 per pound
Sweet Potatoes – $0.86 per pound
Russet Potatoes - $0.98 per pound
Cranberries – $2.24 per 12 oz. bag
Green beans – $1.67 per pound
Milk (1 gallon) – $3.73 per gallon

*Overall, this represents a 1% increase over the last year for these selected items combined.

Frozen Turkey Hen (12 lbs.) - $0.97 per pound
Sweet Potatoes –$0.86 per pound
Russet Potatoes - $0.98 per pound
Cranberries – $2.24 per 12 oz. bag
Green beans – $1.67 per pound
Milk (1 gallon) – $3.73 per gallon

*Overall, this represents a 6% increase over last year for these selected items combined.

As the Thanksgiving holiday gets closer, grocers often begin to offer promotions and discounts for turkeys, including by selling turkeys as loss leaders with costs lower than the wholesale price. Looking at advertised retail turkey prices prior to early November may not reflect the advertised retail prices consumers see when they buy their turkeys closer to Thanksgiving.

The Biden Administration Has Shown Progress Fighting Food Price Inflation:

  • Grocery prices rose by 0.4 pp in October, a significant deceleration from the increases this summer, and the smallest increase since December of last year.
  • Grocery price inflation accelerated following Putin’s war in Ukraine, but we’re now seeing progress as lower input prices work their way through the supply chain.
  • Input costs have declined for the last 2 months, which points to continued progress on grocery prices in the months ahead.
  • While we still face challenges – including a devastating outbreak of avian flu that has pushed up prices for eggs and chicken– the broader picture is encouraging heading into the holiday season.

USDA Steps to Combat the Spread of HPAI:

  • HPAI is a viral disease that primarily impacts birds, including chickens and turkeys.
  • An outbreak of HPAI in commercial poultry began in 2022 due to introductions from infected wild birds.
  • Since February 8, USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has detected highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in commercial and backyard flocks in 46 States.
  • As of November 15, APHIS has confirmed detections in 264 commercial flocks and 356 backyard flocks, affecting 50.34 million birds.
  • In response, turkey growers have partnered with USDA and officials from affected states to respond to this outbreak, including by implementing quarantine restrictions, depopulating affected flocks, disposing of depopulated birds, cleaning and eliminating the virus from affected premises, and conducting surveillance in surrounding areas.
  • USDA is also coordinating closely with its partners, including States, the U.S. Department of the Interior and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, to monitor, report, and control this outbreak.

Impact of HPAI on the Supply and Price of Turkeys:

  • Despite HPAI losses, the overall supply of whole birds does not appear to be significantly impacted. Anyone who wants a bird will be able to get one.
  • To ensure sufficient supplies for the upcoming holidays, the turkey industry has been processing more birds and, in some cases, birds at an earlier age to increase number of whole birds available.
  • It is important to note that not all turkey processing companies were impacted by HPAI or, if they were, not to the same degree.
  • This means that retail grocers who contracted with those turkey processors most impacted by HPAI may see some variation in size of turkeys for that brand’s processor.
  • However, a retail grocer who contracted with a turkey processor that was not impacted by HPAI could expect to see no change in product availability.


USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service publishes retail reports, which are based on the average sale prices offered to consumers by grocery retailers each week in their store circulars. These sale prices are what the majority of consumers would be paying for their Thanksgiving meals and therefore represent a truer estimate of the total cost incurred. For example, a store may have an everyday price for a frozen hen turkey at $1.69 per pound but offers the same turkey on sale at $0.97 per pound around Thanksgiving. Most of that store's customers would be paying the $0.97 sale price rather than the $1.69 price.


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