If you’ve noticed that the prices of traditional American Thanksgiving staples have gone up this year, you’re not imagining things. According to a survey by the American Farm Bureau Federation, the cost of a typical Thanksgiving turkey dinner for 10 guests will be close to 13 percent higher this year than in November of 2010.
You could blame the bird. The AFBF notes that prices for whole turkeys are up almost 25 cents per pound over last year. But prices for pumpkin, cranberries and sweet potatoes have also jumped — the cost of canned pumpkin is up more than 13 percent, and that sweet potato casserole could cost you about 7 percent more this year.
In fact, it’s not just that turkey dinner with all the trimmings that is suddenly costing American consumers more than they’re used to spending at the grocery store: Food prices in general have been on the rise all year. In October, the U.S. Department of Agriculture projected that by the end of 2011, the Consumer Price Index for food will have risen by 3.5 to 4.5 percent. Prices of of staple dairy and wheat products in particular have been on the rise. A gallon of whole milk costs consumers roughly 10 percent more now than it did in late 2010; a loaf of bread, 7 percent more.
Drastic price increases on everyday food staples are very bad news for the many Americans who have already been struggling for years to make ends meet in the wake of a global recession. In the face of two straight years of declining household income, and a national unemployment rate that continues to top 9%, the average American household’s spending on food has dropped by about 5% since 2007 — the largest decrease in 25 years. In August, a USDA report revealed that a record number of Americans — more than 45 million — now rely on food stamps. That’s 1 out of every five people in the country.
With families cutting grocery budgets across America, and with so many Americans now relying on meager government food subsidies just to get by, cash-strapped consumers on the hunt for deals are putting plenty of pressure on food producers to reduce prices, not raise them. So why is it that food prices are still on the rise?
Photo of pumpkin pie by Patricia, from Wikimedia Commons. Used under Creative Commons license.
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