Speed Reads

a costly feast

This year's Thanksgiving dinner could be 'the most expensive meal in the history of the holiday'

Unfortunately for your wallet (and likely also your dinner table conversation), 2021 Thanksgiving dinner "could be the most expensive meal in the history of the holiday," writes The New York Times.

"Nearly every component" of the Thanksgiving feast — including the disposable turkey roasting pan, after-dinner coffee, and quintessential pumpkin pie — will cost more this year, per agricultural economists, farmers, and grocery executives. The financial hit comes as a result of "a knotted supply chain, high transportation expenses, labor shortages, trade policies," bad weather, and inflation, writes the Times.

"I never seen anything like it, and I've been running sweet potatoes for 38 or 39 years," said Norman Brown, director of sweet potato sales for a farm in North Carolina. "I don't know what the answer is, but in the end it's all going to get passed on to the consumer."

"I picture a perfect storm of increased demand and lack of supply," added food writer Matt Lardie.

The biggest expense, writes the Times, is likely to be the turkey, whose price per pound is expected to surpass the current record benchmark of $1.36, set in 2015. The price increase is mostly attributable to the price of corn (on which commercial turkeys feed), which "more than doubled" in some places nationwide between July 2020 and July 2021.

Dinner rolls will go up in price because baking ingredients have, as well. Canned cranberry sauce will cost more until domestic steel plants catch up on pandemic-delayed production. And extreme weather, like drought, has affected the production (and thus the cost) of certain Thanksgiving-related crops, too.

"All of these dynamics are not theoretical," said Katheryn Russ, an economics professor at UC Davis. "We can't lose sight of how these broader issues hit home."