While consumers may see a slight dip in food costs for this Thanksgiving, prices are still up compared to pre-pandemic 2019. The American Farm Bureau says this year’s classic feast for 10 family and friends should cost, on average, $61.17. That’s a bit more than 4% down from 2022. However, in 2022 the nation saw a dramatic 9.9% increase in food prices.

“The great news is that prices are going down this year compared to last year,” said Kelly Lester, of the Center for Food, Power, and Life at the John Locke Foundation. “But we are still seeing higher prices, about 25% higher than in 2019 for our Thanksgiving meal.”

The primary driver of the slightly lower Thanksgiving prices this year is largely due to a 5.4% decrease in the price of turkey itself. In 2022, there was an outbreak of avian influenza that made turkey prices skyrocket for the average consumer. This year, turkey farmers have been able to increase production by three percent, driving prices down.

The price of some vegetables, like sweet potatoes is down as well. Items that require more production, like rolls and pies, will show price increases this year due to increases in supply chain costs, labor, and other factors.

Supply chain disruptions and other factors triggered that spike in 2022 food prices. That year, the USDA reports that food-at-home prices increased by 11.4%, while food-away-from-home prices increased by 7.7%. After the 2022 spike in food prices, North Carolina families made changes in the way they eat and live, but most are still feeling the impact.

“The reality is that we keep being told the economy is doing great, but when you just go talk to your neighbor, they are saying ‘I make the most money I’ve every day, the highest salary, but why do I feel so poor,’” said Lester.

growth for N.C. turkey producers

North Carolina producers account for close to 14% of all the turkeys sold across the country, about 30 million in 2021. Moderate temperatures, and the availability of feed crops make counties like Sampson, Wayne, Union, Duplin, Onslow high producers of Thanksgiving turkeys.

While a Thanksgiving bird is an American tradition, more countries may also be talking turkey soon. This fall, the U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai announced trade agreement in which India is reducing tariffs for frozen turkeys, opening up a new market for North Carolina poultry farmers.

 “I know North Carolina is a powerhouse in terms of turkey production and we’re constantly looking for opportunities for our growers and producers,” Tai said following a September tour of N.C. State’s Talley Turkey Education Unit. “India has not been a traditionally large market for our turkey exports, in part due to its tariff structure. This will be an opportunity for the United States and North Carolina in particular to showcase turkeys and turkey meat to the people of India. It’s also a part of the contribution that the United States can make to food security and addressing food insecurity around the world.”