Inflation on the Thanksgiving menu as food prices climb

HEB, Walmart trot out sales on turkey

Turkey and fixin’s are a tradition at the Thanksgiving table, but this year, add a heaping helping of inflation.

SAN ANTONIO – Turkey and fixin’s are a tradition at the Thanksgiving table, but this year, add a heaping helping of inflation.

Even as new government numbers show inflation cooling, many food prices are still heating up. The Consumer Price Index for October shows groceries cost about 12.4% more than one year ago.

Shoppers will see it when they stuff their carts for the Thanksgiving feast.

Take turkey. It’s gobbling up more of family food budgets. Wholesale prices are up about 28% due to tight supplies and other increased costs like feed, transportation, and labor.

“We certainly are producing fewer turkeys this year than last,” said Texas A&M Agriculture Economist David Anderson. “A big part of that is avian influenza that killed a bunch of turkeys.”

There is no turkey shortage, according to Anderson, who said big stores will have plenty.

“But, if you’re a consumer interested in a particular brand or size or weight, it probably pays to go early,” he said.

Shoppers can expect to pay more.

“Maybe the turkey is going to be $3.50 more than last year,” he estimated.

That matters to Priscilla Miller.

“Of course, any increase matters,” she said.

Shopper Maria Elena Padilla said she shopped early for most of her Thanksgiving needs to preempt price jumps. She’s not yet bought the turkey.

“Now, I think I’m just going to go to chicken,” she said.

But weeks before Thanksgiving, H-E-B and Walmart trotted out the sales, offering store-brand birds for 98 cents a pound and certain Butterballs for $1.18. There were some purchase limits.

“Our stores are prepared and will have good supply of turkeys for the holiday season,” H-E-B said.

What about the side dishes? A check of USDA data showed a bag of fresh cranberries, squash, potatoes, onions, eggs and more cost more than last year. Sweet potatoes, however, cost a bit less.

The cost of putting the traditional feast on the table is higher, but many shoppers say they’ll manage because gathering with loved ones is priceless.

“Still having a Thanksgiving, no matter what,” said Melvin Miller.

About the Authors:

As a consumer reporter, Marilyn is all about helping people stay safe and save a buck. Since coming to KSAT in 1985, she’s covered everything from crime to politics, winning awards for her coverage of the Mexican Mafia, Oklahoma tornadoes, children’s transplants, an investigation into voting irregularities and even a hit-and-run Santa Claus.

Luis Cienfuegos is a photographer at KSAT 12.