Prices, shortages hitting Thanksgiving dinner this year

Miami Valley Meals, with support of the MVM Coalition, ran two turkey dinner takeaway sites in 2020 in Dayton. This year, everything from the takeaway containers to the turkey are harder to source and cost more. FILE
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Miami Valley Meals, with support of the MVM Coalition, ran two turkey dinner takeaway sites in 2020 in Dayton. This year, everything from the takeaway containers to the turkey are harder to source and cost more. FILE

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Turkey production drops to lowest point since 2015, amid slipping demand.

The cost of turkey is climbing and supplies of Thanksgiving staples are spotty as the holiday nears.

The rising price tag for produce, meat and more reflects a host of factors. Inflation is rising. Shipping costs are up. Wages are rising in a bid for workers.

The Consumer Price Index for food was up 4.6% from a year ago in September, when the latest data was posted.

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Turkey production is down 5% compared to last year, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service reported. David Anderson, AgriLife Extension livestock economist, wrote that both turkey numbers and pounds produced are at the lowest point since 2015, a response to slipping demand.

Combined with price push from higher feed, fuel and labor costs, the national wholesale average for whole hens is $1.35 per pound, compared to $1.14 per pound this time last year.

Local restaurants that traditionally provide Thanksgiving fare say they are planning ahead.

Rob’s Restaurant in Brookville each year serves Thanksgiving food as well as takeout and catering orders, and to be prepared catering manager Emily Hall had to contact all of her suppliers and buy ahead, from turkeys to catering plates.

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Hall said with planning they will be ready to serve that day, and are almost fully booked on reservations with some additional tables for call-ahead seating.

“My suppliers are doing everything that they can in their power. It’s basically just being very proactive on what we’re expecting, and ordering ahead,” Hall said.

The Florentine restaurant in Germantown is hosting its usual reservation-required Thanksgiving Day buffet, made possible by buying what they need early. General Manager Brenda Blevins said trouble ordering items started before Thanksgiving, with no E.T.A. on when many items will be back.

“Normally we don’t start buying until around now, but we’ve been buying since the first part of October,” Hall said.

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If Thanksgiving is a time of year when you don’t just feast with family but also donate to food drives, keep in mind that some foodbanks around the U.S. report that the rising costs of goods are hurting their ability to provide for members while also surging demand for free meals.

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The Dayton Foodbank reported that because they get so much food in-kind and other avenues than retail, the rising costs have not at this time translated to any major impact their ability to serve.

Lee Lauren Truesdale, chief development officer, said they noticed an increase in the cost of turkeys when they recently bought some, but they overall haven’t been majorly affected.

“That’s not to say in the future — the near future probably — we won’t see some prices increase in the bulk items that we purchase. But we just purchase such a minimal amount of food every year that we just haven’t quite seen that affect us yet,” Truesdale said.

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