Arizona Thanksgiving meal cost down 28% as turkey prices decrease

U.S. Army Reserve soldiers gather a Thanksgiving luncheon in Fort Meade, Maryland, in this 2017 file photo. This year, the cost of a Thanksgiving dinner has gone down across the nation. (Photo by Master Sgt. Michel Sauret/U.S. Army Reserve)

PHOENIX – The average price of a Thanksgiving feast for 10 people this year is down 28%, after Arizona consumers faced “historically high” prices for their Thanksgiving meal ingredients in 2022.

The Arizona Farm Bureau’s annual market basket survey of the typical fixings for Thanksgiving estimates that a traditional meal for 10 people will cost $51.89 this year – or around $5.19 per person – a $19.99 decrease from last year’s total bill of $71.88.

The survey shopping list includes turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes, rolls with butter, peas, cranberries, a veggie tray, milk, plus pumpkin pie with whipped cream, all in quantities sufficient to serve a family of 10 with plenty of leftovers.

Price checks on food items were collected by Arizona Farm Bureau volunteer leaders who went to local grocery stores the week of Nov. 6. No sales or promotions were included.

The Arizona Farm Bureau is a farm and ranch organization dedicated to preserving and improving the agriculture industry through member involvement in advocacy, communication and education that supports Arizona farmers and ranchers.

Moon River Beef in Perkinsville raises heritage breed turkeys. (Photo courtesy of Lisa Khan)

Moon River Beef in Perkinsville raises heritage breed turkeys. (Photo courtesy of Lisa Khan)

“Arizona farmers can almost grow and raise everything that’s on the traditional Thanksgiving meal with the exception of the cranberries. We just get too hot out here in Arizona. We can even supply Arizona-grown roses for centerpieces just because our agriculture is so diverse in Arizona,” said Arizona Farm Bureau Strategic Communications Director Julie Murphree.

These items are the same food items used in the Farm Bureau survey for the past three decades.

The only two ingredients in the Arizona survey that went up in price are a 1-pound bag of frozen green peas, which increased by 4 cents, and a vegetable tray, up by 3 cents per pound.

A 16-pound turkey purchased in Arizona this year was $18.32, or $1.14 per pound, compared to last year’s $32.02 for a 16-pound turkey, a 43% decrease from the 2022 turkey price.

“It’s all about the turkey. The turkey is 50% of the traditional Thanksgiving meal. It had the most dramatic reduction. The main reason for that is we have a healthy supply of turkeys across the United States,” Murphree said.

She said the turkey supply last year was tight and a little bit down because of the avian flu, which swept through a lot of domestic flocks at the time. The flu didn’t decimate turkey farmer’s flocks this year.

According to a 2022 report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 49 million birds in 46 states died last year before Thanksgiving as a result of bird flu infection or had to be killed because they were exposed to infected birds.

Alex Arizmendi is the owner-operator of Ridgeview Farm in Paulden, where he raises chickens and turkeys – every year he loses poultry to disease and other causes.

“It all depends on how many turkeys I lose,” Arizmendi said of the price, noting he lost about 50 turkeys this year. “Every year the sales have increased since 2019. Last year I think I crossed 340, and this year I’m selling about 370 turkeys.”

He said the retail price for his fresh turkeys is $5 a pound and wholesale is $4.25.

Not all turkeys are down in price this year, according to Lisa Khan, the CEO of Moon River Beef in Perkinsville.

“Our turkeys are $175, we sell specialized turkeys that are called heritage breed turkeys, they are slow growing as opposed to the ones that you find at the grocery store that are quick growing,” Khan said. “Our prices went up from last year because feed prices and gas prices went up. We charged $150 last year.”

Even with higher prices, Khan said the company still sold out of turkeys last week. She said customers are buying briskets, tenderloins and rib roasts for their Thanksgiving meals as well.

The American Farm Bureau reports that Thanksgiving meals nationwide will decrease in price this year by 4.5%, from $64.05 to $61.17 for a meal to serve 10. That’s $9.28 more than the same Thanksgiving meal would cost in Arizona.

Regardless, celebrating Thanksgiving dinner this year will be more cost effective than last year’s record high prices.

“I think for those families that love their turkey, they are going to be a lot more excited this year that the price is so much better. It is more about the individual family traditions,” Murphree said.

News Reporter, Phoenix

Jacob Snelgrove expects to graduate in December 2023 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in communication studies. Snelgrove works in the marketing department of Hensley Beverage Company.

Emily Mai EM-uh-lee my (she/they)
News Visual Journalist, Phoenix

Emily Mai expects to graduate in May 2024 with a master’s degree in mass communication. Mai graduated from Arizona State University in 2023 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and mass communication. Mai is part of the marketing and public relations team for ASU Gammage.

News Digital Producer, Phoenix

Lorenzo Lopez expects to graduate in December 2023 with a bachelor’s degree in sports journalism. Lopez is interning for the Varsity Sports Show in Phoenix.