Turkey prices increase ahead of Thanksgiving
Numbers released last Friday by the federal government indicated the price for turkey went up the week of Thanksgiving from the week prior. A U.S. Department of Agriculture report that listed the advertised retail prices per pound for the period ...
Numbers released last Friday by the federal government indicated the price for turkey went up the week of Thanksgiving from the week prior.
A U.S. Department of Agriculture report that listed the advertised retail prices per pound for the period between Nov. 20 to Nov. 26 said the average price for fresh whole birds had gone up 20 cents for hens, and 18 cents for toms. For frozen whole birds, the average price went up five cents for hens, and eight cents for toms.
Kent Meschke, owner of the Meschke poultry farm in Little Falls, said it's a misconception that farms raise a lot of turkeys for Thanksgiving because the birds can be frozen in advance.
"Most of the farms run year-round and the production doesn't vary at all for the holiday," he said.
The farms put a lot of work into getting fresh, non-frozen turkeys ready in the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving, but there's only so much they can do, Meschke said.
Meschke, a former president of the Minnesota Turkey Growers Association, said avian flu primarily affected heavy toms-used in processed turkey products like bacon-rather than whole frozen birds.
Around Thanksgiving, retailers sell turkeys at a loss in order to get people into the store, thus using the product as a "loss leader", Meschke said. Therefore, consumers end up with an unfair view of what the normal price of turkey should be in the rest of the year.
"People get it in their heads that the price of turkey should always be below a dollar," he said. "Well, it just isn't possible."
The average price in the Midwest region of the country for both fresh whole toms and hens was $1.70 per pound. The average price for frozen whole hens and toms was $0.98 per pound.
The National Turkey Federation noted in a release Nov. 19 that shoppers can also find lower prices at nearly 49 cents per pound in many supermarkets offering discounts for frozen turkey as part of their annual promotions to attract Thanksgiving shoppers.
The USDA projected 228 million turkeys would be produced by the end of the year. The National Turkey Federation estimated Americans eat 46 million turkeys for Thanksgiving dinner, most flash-frozen beginning in March-avoiding bird flu.
Results from the American Farm Bureau Federation's 30th annual informal price survey of traditional food items found on the Thanksgiving Day dinner table said the average cost of a Thanksgiving meal 10 is $50.11, up 70 cents from last year's average of $49.41.
The USDA also released tips on how to make sure your turkey is adequately cooked. The agency encourages using a food thermometer to cook like a PRO: Place the thermometer, Read the temperature, Out of the oven.
• Place the thermometer in the innermost part of the thigh, the innermost part of the wing, and the thickest part of the breast.
• Read the temperature to make sure that the bird has reached a minimum internal temperature of 165 degrees.
• Take the turkey Out of the oven, and serve it to your family without worry.
If you have questions about your Thanksgiving dinner, you can call the USDA Meat & Poultry Hotline at 888-MPHotline (888-674-6854) to talk to a food safety expert. The Hotline has been around for 30 years. Last November they received more than 3,000 calls, mostly about Thanksgiving dinner. You can also chat live with a food safety expert at AskKaren.gov, available from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. eastern time, Monday through Friday, in English and Spanish.
If you need help on Thanksgiving Day, the Meat & Poultry Hotline phone line is available from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. eastern.