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Turkey Price May Increase Up To 20 Percent This Thanksgiving

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Expect turkey to consume a bigger chunk of your Thanksgiving dinner budget, as its prices have increased this year due to the avian flu that affected flock populations.

Although turkey prices will vary from one store and region to another, consumers may see price hikes of up to 20 percent compared to 2014 costs, said agricultural economist Corinne Alexander of Purdue University.

This development is seen to impact families with budget limitations or on fixed income. The good news, however, is the practically the rest of the Thanksgiving meal will cost likely the same.

“[T]he only other item that's been impacted is eggs, and most people put eggs in their pumpkin pie, but otherwise the rest of the menu items will be the same or lower priced,” explained Alexander.

Prices of cranberry are estimated to be about the same as 2014. Potatoes and sweet potatoes, too, stay abundant, keeping prices stable for the traditional Thanksgiving fare of American households.

In the fourth quarter of the year, turkey production is down by about eight percent, with the disease outbreak hitting large-scale producers hard. The wholesale prices of whole turkey during this period for Eastern market is predicted by the agriculture department to be as high as $1.37 per pound – one-fifth higher than from a year ago.

Shoppers, though, can still expect discounts from retailers typically using turkeys as “loss leaders” to lure people into their stores at this time of the year.

How about local or organic turkey? Prices are seen to be already much higher than commercial, mass-produced ones, so Alexander noted that their market – considered by Alexander to be not as price-sensitive as other Americans – likely won’t see much of a difference. Local turkey farmers were not as badly affected by the avian flu.

Back in July, the Senate Agriculture Committee heard woes of the avian influenza from turkey farmers, with the National Turkey Federation estimating eight million turkeys to be lost to the disease. Economic losses are pegged at about $500 million.

Access to food is a crucial matter to address especially around the holidays, said Samantha Martin, Second Harvest Food Bank programs director.

According to Martin, Thanksgiving dinner is often equated with celebration and wonderful times.“[W]hen a family can't even afford to make dinner, that's somewhat (diminished)," she said.

Community dinners are one way to ensure a good holiday experience, serving as part of year-long soup kitchen options for people looking for a place to go.

And they appeal not only to those mired in poverty, but also anyone who wants to take part in community events – “something (bigger than) themselves,” added Martin.

Photo: Rene Schwietzke | Flickr

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