There may be a hitch in your Thanksgiving plans this year, and it's likely hitting your wallet. According to expert predictions, this year's Thanksgiving meal may be the most expensive yet, with multiple forces to blame.
The ripple effect of a backed up global supply chain has already had some Americans waiting months for furniture and leaving grocery store shelves bare, but experts say holiday meal costs go beyond the supply chain issues.
The nation's food supply has been impacted by the supply chain issues at the global level. The New York Times reported that some farmers are forced to pay truckers twice as much to transport crops, while labor shortages, policies, and even the weather are further impacting what food is available for holiday meals.
Inflation is also a factor in the rising food costs. Just last month the Consumer Price Index for food jumped 4.6% from last year's numbers. The price increase for meat, fish and eggs was up a whopping 10.5% –– turkey alone is up 25 cents a pound from a year ago –– which points to higher costs for executing holiday recipes.
With Covid-19 vaccines on the table, travel restrictions have relaxed compared to a year ago, meaning there's probably going to be fewer turkeys available as people travel and gather. To compensate demand and supply, some grocery stores are upping the cost of traditional Thanksgiving ingredients, especially for smaller, fresh, free-range turkeys, experts say.
"Customers aren't necessarily going out to restaurants, so they are upping their game in terms of products," Stuart Aitken, chief merchant for Kroger grocery stores, told The Times, describing what marketers call "premiumization" of certain goods like the organic turkeys that separate them from frozen birds.
At the end of the web of global economic issues are people who may not be able to afford higher-cost Thanksgiving meals.
"I can buy that this will be the most expensive Thanksgiving ever, but there's an income inequality story here that matters a lot," Trey Malone, a Michigan State University agriculture economist told the newspaper.
"The rich are going to be spending more on Thanksgiving than they have ever spent before, but not everyone is going to be able to do that," Malone added.
Last year's holiday season included a noted rise in demand for food banks as the nation saw an uptick in new cases. Among Black Americans, food insecurity increased in households with children during the pandemic, one analysis found.
Some shoppers are getting a head start on buying ingredients to sniff out deals and avoid the holiday rush for some ingredients. Still, these grim holiday cost predictions come as the disproportionate economic fallout of the pandemic on Black communities and other communities of color in the nation continue.