How much will your Thanksgiving turkey cost you this year?


With Thanksgiving just two weeks away, attention is turning to how much we'll have to pay to put a turkey on the table this year.

There are conflicting reports about retail turkey prices – but the consensus seems to be that you'll be paying more than last year, especially if you're buying fresh.

This year is different from others because of the bird flu epidemic that wiped out millions of birds including in Minnesota, America's biggest turkey-producing state.

Corinne Alexander, an agricultural economist at Purdue University, said on Monday that the epidemic is likely to tack an extra 15 to 20 percent on the cost of a turkey this Thanksgiving due to supply being lower than last year.

Her prediction appears to be shared by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which in its livestock outlook last month said it expects the average turkey price to rise to between $1.31 and $1.37 per pound this year, a 20 percent increase on the $1.14 it was last year.

But there is hope of a cheaper dinner for those who buy frozen turkeys. Citing newer USDA figures, The Associated Press reports supermarket prices for frozen birds averaged $1.08 per pound on Nov. 6, down from $1.69 three weeks earlier, albeit an increase on the 89 cents it was last year.

Frozen turkeys have been less affected by the bird flu outbreak because the hens were slaughtered and frozen before many farms were affected, unlike fresh turkeys, which according to the AP averaged $1.60 per pound on Nov. 6 compared to $1.36 last year.

What also may save shoppers some extra pennies is that many retailers will keep turkey prices low – even if it means they lose money.

Alexander said grocery stores use turkey as a "loss leader," using special offers for frequent shoppers or for larger birds to entice shoppers in to spend their money on other Thanksgiving dinner ingredients.

What about other Thanksgiving foods?

Thanksgiving isn't just about the turkey of course – so we've had a quick look at the current average prices for other Thanksgiving staples and ingredients and compared them to last year using USDA data.

Russet potatoes: 99 cents per pound (same as last year), $2.42 for a 3-pound bag ($2.20 in 2014).

Cranberries: $2.08 for an 8-ounce bag ($2.42 in 2014).

Green beans: $1.47 per pound ($2.07 in 2014).

Sweetcorn: 42 cents per cob (38 cents in 2014).

Celery: $2.58 each ($1.84 in 2014).

Carrots: 47 cents per pound (42 cents in 2014).

Onions (yellow): 81 cents per pound (60 cents in 2014).

A word for pumpkin pie: There had been fears that because of heavy rains in Illinois (America's biggest pumpkin producer) this summer, which slashed yields by 50 percent, that there would be a pumpkin shortage this Thanksgiving.

But Libby's, the market leader in canned pumpkin, told the AP it expects its stocks to last through Thanksgiving, and the supply shortage won't be felt until after the holidays.

Corinne Alexander estimates the overall rise in cost of Thanksgiving this year will be just 0.8 percent thanks not only to the lower cost of certain vegetables, but also a 30 percent drop in gas prices and relatively stable energy prices.

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Your traditional Thanksgiving meal will cost you more this year

The American Farm Bureau Federation says the cost to cook a meal with turkey and all the trimmings is up 13 percent -- upping the price per plate to about $5.