It’s the season to think about turkey prices as the birds will start showing up in our grocery store meat cases in the next couple of weeks. Last year, at this time, turkey prices were record high. Prices have set new record highs this year leading up to Thanksgiving.
Wholesale, frozen, 8-16 pound, national average whole hen prices hit $1.80 per pound in the third week of October 2022. They were $1.41 per pound in October 2021. Turkey prices normally peak around the end of September to the 1st of October. Fresh turkeys hit $1.93 compared to $1.47 last year.
The most important factor in high prices is reduced turkey production. High Pathogenic Avian Infuenza (HPAI) has hit the turkey industry hard. Production this year is 4.7 percent below last year. Turkey production has increased dramatically in recent weeks as the industry tries to boost supplies in time for Thanksgiving. Last week’s production was 8 percent above the same week the year before. Turkeys are typically put into cold storage for sales in the Fall. September cold storage stocks of turkey were about 5 percent below a year ago. The second major factor in high turkey prices are high feed costs. High corn and soybean prices have pressured profits for turkey producers leading to lower production. Like all other businesses, transportation costs, labor, and other costs of getting turkeys to market are higher contributing to higher turkey prices.
While higher wholesale prices will likely translate to higher retail prices, stores often use turkeys as part of Thanksgiving marketing specials. Grocery stores should have plenty of turkeys on hand. But, smaller restaurants and other users have struggled getting supplies for most of this year.