Food Prices to Rise for Holidays, Then More in 2013

Monday, November 19, 2012
By Paul Martin

The drought, plus longer-term trends, could mean pricier Christmas and Thanksgiving meals this year

November 18, 2012

Maybe it’s time to get a Tofurkey for Thanksgiving (and pick one up for Christmas, too), since turkey prices have been steadily on the rise in recent years, and don’t seem to be letting up.

From 2005 to 2011, the average price for turkey went up by 47 percent, compared to 13 percent for all food at home, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Higher costs for feed and rising energy costs have caused farmers to cut down on production and have helped to drive up costs for the feathery fowl.

The latest CPI report from the Labor Department suggests that the trend is continuing: the price for “other poultry including turkey” (a category that excludes chicken) was up last month by 5.5 percent on an unadjusted, annual basis.

The price of turkey (and of many other foods) could get pushed even higher as the year draws to a close. That’s because last summer’s historic droughts, which wreaked havoc on crops nationwide and pushed corn and soybean prices upward, appear to finally be showing up in food prices.

“There’s possible evidence that we’re starting to see drought impacts on a minor scale,” says Richard Volpe, a USDA economist, pointing to October food price upticks. “Could there be an impact for Thanksgiving? Maybe. Christmas? Probably.”

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