Thanksgiving by the Numbers: Turkey Prices, Spending Stats and More


The highly pathogenic avian influenza, also more commonly known as the bird flu, may have wiped out millions of commercial turkeys earlier this year, but the U.S. Department of Agriculture said there is no shortage of turkeys for Thanksgiving Day. Check out what Americans spend eating turkey and other Thanksgiving Day traditional foods below.

7.5 Million: Number of Turkeys Killed Due to Bird Flu

In a matter of weeks, more than 7.5 million turkeys were killed due to the bird flu outbreak, affecting around 3% of commercial turkeys raised in the U.S. However, the USDA said the bird flu had a greater impact on processed turkey meats, those offered at the deli, not whole turkeys, which are in demand during the holidays.

Additionally, more than two-thirds of the turkeys consumers buy for Thanksgiving are frozen ahead of the holiday. By the time the bird flu hit turkey flocks earlier this year, the majority of what the USDA calls “frozen whole bird production” was already complete, ensuring U.S. consumers would have access to a healthy supply of safe turkeys this holiday season.

Prices for the frozen turkeys are largely unchanged this year compared to last, the USDA reported. However, larger birds as well as fresh birds are higher in many places. If it’s an organic, free-range or antibiotic-free turkey you are looking for, there are ample supplies of those as well, the department said.

$0.90 Per Pound: Average Price of a Frozen Turkey

The average price for a frozen turkey at supermarkets is $0.90 per pound, as of Monday. That is down from last week’s $1.08 per pound, according to the USDA. The American Farm Bureau Federation reported higher prices last week, saying a 16-pound turkey cost $23.04 this year, or $1.44 per pound, up $0.09 per pound from 2014.

$50: Average Cost of a Thanksgiving Day Meal

The group said overall, a Thanksgiving Day dinner this year would cost $50.11, up from the $49.41 in 2014. If you did your holiday meal shopping at Whole Foods or Trader Joes, however, you likely paid more. Common items for today’s feast cost $87.91 at Whole Foods, Bloomberg reported. That cost shot up to $107.52 if shoppers opted for an organic turkey. At Trader Joes, the cost for today’s meal was $72.28.

Millennials, however, were planning to spend more than average on their Thanksgiving feast this year. Forty-two percent of millennials plan to spend more money today, compared with 34% of non-millennials, the Allrecipes 2015 Thanksgiving survey showed. According to Esmee Williams, vice president of consumer and brand strategy at Allrecipes, this is because millennials are more likely to buy local-crafted or artisan foods. Origin of the product is important, and millennials are more willing to pay higher prices to know where their food comes from, Williams told Reuters earlier this week.

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