IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Expect to pay a lot more for Thanksgiving this year thanks to food inflation

Turkey is among the products that saw its largest-ever price gains last month.
A shopper walks past turkeys for sale in a grocery store, on Nov. 11, 2021 in Los Angeles, Calif.
A shopper walks past turkeys for sale in a grocery store on Nov. 11, 2021, in Los Angeles.Mario Tama / Getty Images file

Inflation appears poised to gobble up this year's Thanksgiving budgets, as U.S. food prices continue to soar.

The cost of all food climbed 11.2% in September compared with last year, with the cost of food at home like groceries climbing 13% year on year.

Leading the food price increases over the past 12 months: margarine, up 44%; flour and prepared flour mixes, up 24.2%; frozen and refrigerated bakery products like pies, tarts and turnovers, up 20.4%.

While the collective category of meats, poultry, fish and eggs rose by 9% compared to September 2021, the price of eggs by itself is up 31% year over year.

Other categories saw relatively smaller annual price jumps but still notched their largest-ever year-over-year climbs: The category of cakes, cupcakes and cookies was up 16%, as was the category of sweet rolls, coffeecakes and doughnuts.

Uncooked turkey prices were up 17%, and processed fruits and vegetables were up 16%.

The war in Ukraine has caused grain prices to surge; Ukraine and Russia together account for roughly a quarter of global wheat exports, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Turkey prices have seen a particularly acute impact from inflation and a bird flu outbreak. In September, the American Farm Bureau Federation announced that "families can expect to pay record high prices at the grocery store for turkey."

The retail price for fresh boneless, skinless turkey breast reached a record high of $6.70 per pound in September, 112% higher than the same time in 2021 when prices were $3.16 per pound, the bureau said.

"[Bird flu] outbreaks in the spring and an uptick in cases in the fall are taking a toll, but farmers remain dedicated to ensuring America's food supply remains strong," American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall said.

Other factors driving food prices higher are the costs of energy and labor. While retail gasoline prices declined through much of September, they remain elevated compared to last year. Meanwhile, labor shortages have pushed up wages and salaries for workers across the U.S.

Even as their hourly earnings declined on an inflation-adjusted basis, take-home pay for production workers like those employed in parts of the food industry climbed $1.51 year over year.

"Wage growth in the U.S. is considerably faster than it was pre-pandemic," Bill Adams, chief economist at Comerica Bank, told NBC News, "especially among lower-paying occupations like food services."