Inflation on the Thanksgiving plate

Empower Wisconsin | Nov. 18, 2022

MADISON — Soaring inflation is on the menu this Thanksgiving, with the cost of the holiday meal up 18 percent nationally, according to the latest American Farm Bureau Federation survey.

The price tag for the average Thanksgiving feast for 10 checks in at $81.30 nationally. Wisconsin’s bill is at $74.54, up 4.3 percent from last year’s market basket survey.

“General inflation slashing the purchasing power of consumers is a significant factor contributing to the increase in average cost of this year’s Thanksgiving dinner,” said AFBF Chief Economist Roger Cryan.

Prices rising above 7 percent in recent months has much to do with the massive government spending over the past two years in the form of pandemic aid. Food prices are up 12 percent on the year.

The star of the Thanksgiving table — turkey — was priced nationally at $28.96 for a 16-pound bird, up 21 percent over 2021, the Farm Bureau survey shows. In Wisconsin, turkey prices checked in at 27.52, nearly a dollar lower than last year’s $28.48. But just about everything else on the Badger State Thanksgiving menu has increased in price over last year.

“Whether you are in the grocery store or on the farm, inflation is impacting us all,” said Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation spokeswoman Cassie Sonnentag. “Increased fuel and fertilizer costs are impacting farmers nationwide. At the grocery store we all are seeing a larger number on our receipts.”

It appears high costs remain in America’s future. St. Louis Federal Reserve President James Bullard this week said the central bank’s aggressive rate hikes has had little effect on rising prices. And relief may not come even amid a global recession, some economists warn.

Yet, the spending orgy continues under President Joe Biden and Democrats who, for now, control congress. Spending is just beginning on Biden’s ill-named Inflation Reduction Act, which includes a record $369 billion in spending on climate and energy policies. Meanwhile the Biden administration is expected to the ask to U.S. Supreme Court to reverse a lower court’s decision shutting down Biden’s student loan bailout — a $400 billion bill to taxpayers.

Still, the Thanksgiving meal price spikes are marginal in Wisconsin compared to the national average, thanks in large part to proximity.

“We are fortunate to be regionally close to many Thanksgiving staples, so shoppers are likely to see lower costs on products grown and raised here in Wisconsin,” said Sonnentag.

The annual Thanksgiving Marketbasket survey is an informal, annual review of food price trends in relation to changing farm prices, weather and wholesale and retail food marketing. Wisconsin Farm Bureau members collected price samples of 15 Thanksgiving food items in November.

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