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Your Holiday Turkey May Be Less Expensive This Year—But There's a Big Threat to Supply

Turkey prices reached record highs in 2022 due to the avian flu.

After turkey prices reached record highs last year, a new report indicates that the Thanksgiving staple will be much more affordable for Americans in 2023. However, the same issue that sent turkey costs soaring in 2022 is re-emerging ahead of the beloved fall holiday—potentially putting the lower prices we're currently enjoying at risk.

The American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF), an agricultural organization and lobbying group, published a report earlier this month announcing that turkey prices are significantly lower now in comparison to last year. The average price of an eight to 16-pound turkey was $1.27 per pound in August 2023, down a whopping 22% from the $1.72 average during the same time in 2022.

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Better yet, prices for other turkey products have dropped even more, according to the AFBF.

"Some of the more specialized products have come down even more since last year. Boneless, skinless, tom turkey breasts, for example, have declined by 61% from the near record $6.65 per pound to $2.59 per pound in August 2023," the report read.

live turkeys
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Inflation and a major outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza, or HPAI, were both major factors behind last year's record-high prices. HPAI is a highly contagious disease that can be deadly to commercial poultry and it severely depleted turkey supplies during the outbreak in 2022. While the AFBF report noted that turkey supplies have greatly improved since then and HPAI cases are significantly lower, the HPAI risk isn't fully gone. 

After months with no new cases, two turkey operations in Utah and South Dakota detected HPAI in their flocks earlier this month, Agriculture Dive reported. Both operations had to cull tens of thousands of their turkeys to prevent the spread of the contagious disease. 

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Fall and spring in general are also higher risk times for HPAI outbreaks, according to the AFBF. This is because migratory birds are major factors in the spread of HPAI, and many birds migrate during the fall and spring.

But even though the avian flu recently reared its head again, the AFBF believes that the current level of cases isn't severe enough to prevent Americans from saving on their Thanksgiving birds this year.

"Farmers and consumers alike should receive some turkey price relief for Thanksgiving. With very few HPAI detections, turkey and poultry supplies have recovered over the last year. This means there is plenty of turkey – and the lower prices that come with strong supplies – to go around for Thanksgiving," the report read.

Zoe Strozewski
Zoe Strozewski is a News Writer for Eat This, Not That! A Chicago native who now lives in New Jersey, she graduated from Kean University in 2020 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Read more about Zoe
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