The White House recently claimed that grocery inflation in the United States is at its lowest level in more than two years. However, when the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) presented its findings on Thanksgiving’s price pressures, a different narrative emerged.
According to the BLS, the cost of a Thanksgiving dinner fell this year, with prices down for turkey, stuffing, peas, cranberries, pie crust, and whipping cream. The White House cited reports from the American Farm Bureau to support this claim. However, when examining the official statistics, the BLS painted quite a distinct picture with its Thanksgiving-adjusted Consumer Price Index (CPI), which encompassed items like turkey, mashed potatoes, sauces and gravies, fresh biscuits, rolls, muffins, and pie.
The BLS stated that prices consumers paid for other uncooked poultry, including turkey, were 7.2% higher in October 2023 than in October 2022. While this is a decrease from the 16.9% inflation rate recorded the previous year, it still signifies rising prices for turkey. In fact, over the last five years, the average annual inflation for other uncooked poultry, including turkey, stood at 8.1%. This means that the average American consumer now spends 46% more on preparing a Thanksgiving turkey compared to five years ago.
The story is similar for other popular Thanksgiving foods as well. Potatoes have surged by 23.7%, sauces and gravies by 32%, fresh biscuits by 30%, and bakery products such as pies, tarts, and turnovers by 30% over the same time frame.
Furthermore, grocery inflation has moved faster than overall inflation. The BLS reported that the overall CPI index rose by 3.1% in October 2023 compared to a year earlier. However, a consumer basket comprising meat, poultry, fish, and eggs was now 29.8% more expensive than it was in 2018.
As Thanksgiving approached, many Americans were finding that the feast was not only a time for gratitude but also for tighter budgeting as they grappled with rising food costs. The increasing prices of staple Thanksgiving foods have put a strain on households, requiring them to spend more on their holiday meals.
While the White House may present a rosy picture of grocery inflation, the BLS statistics tell a different story. Rising prices for Thanksgiving food items, such as turkey and other poultry, potatoes, sauces, and bakery products, highlight the challenges that consumers face in keeping up with food costs. As the holiday season continues, it is important for individuals and families to plan their budgets accordingly and find ways to navigate these higher prices.