From cranberry sauce to stuffing, the prices of these side dishes have risen sharply.
That lavish Thanksgiving spread — the stuffing, the cranberry sauce, your aunt’s mac and cheese, and your mother’s casserole, all circling that golden brown bird — is gonna cost you a bit more this year.
According to Intrics, a retail data company that closely monitors prices at grocery stores across the U.S., inflation has come for many Thanksgiving staples. The company tracked the cost of 11 classic holiday items (canned pumpkin, carrot, cranberry sauce, crispy fried onions, green bean, ham, rolls, russet potato, stuffing, sweet potato, and of course, turkey), gathering 12 million data points.
Overall, they found that these ingredients are about 16 percent more expensive than they were this time last year, according to Patrick Fisher, Intrics’ VP of Retail Strategy. But those increases aren’t spread equally across the board. Canned pumpkin and cranberry sauce have both risen in cost by at least 20 percent, Fisher tells us, while the cost of green beans and sweet potato have remained flat-ish since 2019.
If you’ve stepped into a Safeway at any point over these past few months, you’ll have noticed that food — everything from butter to biscuits — has just become more expensive. In October, the cost of groceries rose 12.4 percent compared to the year before, according to the latest Consumer Price Index report.
A few things are fueling this trend. The hike in gas prices has made moving those goods more expensive and a labor shortage is driving up costs for manufacturers. Meanwhile, the war in Ukraine has disrupted exports of wheat, corn, and sunflower oil, pushing the prices of those commodities up globally.
The cost of flour and sugar has also shot up far ahead of the overall inflation rate, and the rise in aluminum prices has made packaging certain items — cranberry sauce, for instance — more pricey, Fisher says.
We haven’t even touched on the main course. Inflation is also costing farmers, who are paying a lot more to feed and care for their turkeys. On top of that, a nasty strain of bird flu has swept through the U.S., killing more than 6 million turkeys so far this year, The Washington Post reports. As a result, shoppers this year may end up paying 20 percent more per pound compared to last year, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates.
Fisher says that grocers usually start to ease up on the prices of turkey beginning in October. (Notice the annual dips in the line graph he provided us.) But that hasn’t been the case in 2022.
“We didn’t see that this year,” he says.
The price of turkey will come down, it’s just that this holiday season, it looks like “retailers are waiting a bit longer to show their hand on their best deals,” Fisher says.
Besides the Thanksgiving staples, Fisher pointed to a few other items that have moved up significantly in price. Pet food is up about 17 percent compared to last year, with wet dog food rising nearly 50 percent in some regions, Fisher says. Plastic bags — to store all those holiday leftovers — and wax paper have risen 26 percent, baking mixes are up a whopping 35 percent, and the price of snack nuts has increased more than 25 percent.
How you can save money this Thanksgiving
All told, inflation is making Americans feel the squeeze. Retailers are well-aware of that and the biggest ones are trying to respond. Earlier this month, Aldi announced it would be “rewinding prices” on Thanksgiving staples, offering items like rolls and apple pie at its 2019 prices. A couple of days later, Walmart followed suit, vowing to match its 2021 prices. (Yes, you can buy turkey from Walmart — and without leaving your house, no less.)
“That’s a big statement, and everybody in the industry is going to need to respond to that,” says Sonia Parekh, the VP of Client Engagement at SymphonyAI, a company that works with grocers globally. But that doesn’t mean Aldi’s going to be slashing prices across the board, she says.
“It probably means select items, like value items, are going to be discounted. Maybe it’s the frozen turkey, not the fresh turkey, or their private label canned green beans and not the national brand,” she tells us.
But if your mother’s casserole calls for a certain brand of green beans and you’re not willing to deviate from her sacred recipe, one thing Fisher suggests is not starting your Thanksgiving shopping too early. Grocers seem to be waiting a little bit longer this season to reveal their best deals, he says. (Luckily, we have a guide to Thanksgiving food shopping and ordering your meal online.)
And think about everything on your grocery list, not just the big-ticket items, Parekh says.
“You will definitely see a lot of turkey promotions out there, but it really is a matter of where you can get your whole cart for the best price,” she says. “Take a look at all the offers a store’s doing, not just the price of turkey and stuffing, if you’re really trying to save your pennies.”
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Intrics provides insights and clarity by analyzing over 100 million price changes weekly from top retailers in every market of the United States. By considering national brands and private-label alike and linking disparate SKUs and descriptions to a single UPC, Intrics provides product-level indexes in your market. This allows you to be the first to react by quickly understanding changes to product prices, whether your competitors are absorbing or forwarding increased costs to consumers, and how your prices and price changes compare to theirs.