The White House claimed on Monday that Thanksgiving meal costs were down — and while the average cost of a turkey, typical side dishes, and desserts have come down slightly from 2022’s record high, they are still well above pre-pandemic levels.
White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre opened Monday’s briefing with a list of Thanksgiving staples — from turkey and cranberries to car rentals and airfare — and showed the percentages by which the prices had come down.
KJP opens today’s briefing by whipping out a literal food menu and claiming that this Thanksgiving is actually one of the cheapest ever pic.twitter.com/j4vUYp2Fk7
— Dylan Housman (@Dylan_Housman) November 20, 2023
And while the prices have come down — in some cases, considerably, since the Thanksgiving meal hit a record high in 2022 — prices are still higher than they were in previous years, particularly before the pandemic.
According to a report published by the American Farm Bureau Federation, the average cost for a Thanksgiving meal for ten people in 2023 is $61.17. That’s down 4.5% from 2022’s average cost, $64.05, but it’s still up 14.7% from 2021 ($53.31) and up 25% from 2019 ($48.91).
The decrease in cost, according to the AFBF, was primarily driven by a lower price for turkeys: “Given its prominence, the turkey is the true driver of Thanksgiving dinner prices. This year’s drop in turkey prices is attributable to a decrease of avian influenza cases and the resulting recovery in the turkey flock.”
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Prices varied across the United States as well, with the average cost higher on the west coast ($63.89) and the northeast ($64.38) than it is in the south ($59.10) and the midwest ($58.66).
“According to AFBF’s national Thanksgiving survey, 2023 will have the second most expensive Thanksgiving meal in the survey’s 38-year history,” the AFBF wrote in the final report. “A reduction in 4.5% of the Thanksgiving meal was predominantly driven by a reduced cost of turkey, but also by reductions in seven of eleven surveyed dinner items. Although survey prices have begun to come down, food price inflation remains a real issue and serves as a constraint on the budget of all U.S. consumers.”
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