TAMPA, Fla. — The search is on for your stretchy pants because Thanksgiving is now just days away. While many of us are excited to gather around a table overflowing with tasty dishes, what no one is thankful for: the increasing cost to prepare the meal.
A turkey is the focal point of Thanksgiving dinner. For most, it's the one time a year a whole bird is roasted in your very own oven. But to make that happen, you've got to buy one. And this year, you'll be paying more to do it.
Travis Malloy owns and operates Trailbale Farm in the Tampa Bay area.
"So I usually raised about 100 turkeys one time a year for Thanksgiving time," Malloy said.
And this year, he's got more customers than he does birds.
"We have to plan for turkeys in the spring," Malloy explained, "to make sure that it can happen and there was a lot more demand than we could supply this year."
While the demand is greater than the supply, the cost to raise turkeys is greater too.
"Well, on my end, everything's expensive," Malloy said. "I raised them on pasture. I free-range them... We feed them an organic soy-free feed, which is pricey to begin with. But recently, grain costs and feed costs have gone up over 30 percent In the last year for me."
Cost increases trickle down to consumers. This year, Malloy had to hike his prices by 25 percent, still less than his cost increase.
"It's hard to shock people that much with a turkey price," he said.
The CDC reported more than 50 million birds have been wiped out by the avian flu this year. Cases have been detected and reported in Hillsborough and Pasco County.
"A lot of farmers wanted to make sure that they didn't lose all of their birds for this year," Victor Claar, an associate professor of economics at Florida Gulf Coast University said. "So they ended up killing many of them. And of course, that reduces the number of available turkeys for Thanksgiving this year.
Reports from Farm Bureau show that prices for Thanksgiving meals between 2020 and 2021 surged almost 14 percent with an average meal for 10 people costing more than $53.
"The average plated meal at your house will probably cost more than $1 more than it did per person a year ago," Claar said.