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Why does your Thanksgiving dinner cost so much this year?

A plate of food.

You may have already seen the headlines, but your 2021 Thanksgiving meal is going to cost more than years past. When looking at prices for turkeys this year, people are spending around 50 to 60 cents more than in 2020. 

Ryan Larsen, USU farm management extension specialist said there are a variety of factors that are playing a role in this increase. 

“The turkey market, it's been hammered for so many years that really, there's not new entrants into the market. The ones that are still in business, they've weathered a lot of storms, and for them to ramp up production is a big deal. So, they really are constrained,” Larsen said. 

This is not just unique to the Turkey industry. For months we have been seeing increases in meat prices across the board. 

“On the beef side we're exporting a large amount of beef to China right now which is increasing demand," said Larsen. "We've had a drought in part of the West which decreased supply a little bit”

Not every Thanksgiving meal is just meat. There are the vegetable dishes such as mashed potatoes and green bean casserole that are also being affected.

“So even your green bean casserole is going to cost a little more," said Larsen. "No, it's not going to be as dramatic as a turkey, or if you're trying to buy bacon or anything pork, but, it's still gonna be a little more expensive this year.” 

Larsen said he expects these prices to continue through the New Year. 

Kailey Foster is a senior at Utah State University studying Agricultural Communications, Broadcast Journalism, and Political Science while also getting a minor in Agribusiness. She was raised in the dairy industry in Rhode Island where she found her passion for the agriculture industry as a whole. Here at USU, she has held various leadership positions in the Dairy Science Club and the local Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow chapter. She also also served as the 2020 Utah Miss Agriculture and is currently the 2021 Utah Ms. Agriculture. Here at UPR, she works on agriculture news stories and she produces agriculture segments such as USU Extension Highlights, the Green Thumb, and Ag Matters.