Thanksgiving 2022 Turkey Prices Spike Due To Avian Flu Turkey Shortage


Thanksgiving 2022 dinner will cost Americans significantly more this year due to a spike in turkey prices due to a turkey shortage caused by the Avian flu which has infected over 500 commercial and backyard flocks in 42 states, according to the U.S. Department Department of Agriculture.

According to the USDA, 47.7 million turkeys have been affected so far in 2022, but that number is expected to continue to rise through the remainder of the year.

With just a month before Thanksgiving Day 2022, the average price for a whole turkey is $1.99/lb., a 73% increase from $1.15/lb. last year, according to the USDA.

Historical wholesale prices for frozen whole turkey hens:

2016 average: $1.17 per pound
2017 average: $0.96 per pound
2018 average: $0.80 per pound
2019 average: $0.89 per pound
2020 average: $1.07 per pound

Sixty percent of annual turkey production is chilled (as opposed to frozen); however, to produce enough turkey for the holidays – when consumption is by far the highest – producers begin storing turkey in frozen storage as soon as the holiday season ends.

Inventories typically peak the following August, reaching levels equivalent to about 5 weeks of production. From September to November, frozen inventories decrease by about 75 percent.

Is your Thanksgivingturkey a Tom or a hen?

Approximately 57 percent of federally inspected harvested turkeys are toms (male), while about 43 percent are hens (female).

One of the main differences is size. Toms are grown to an average live weight of 41 pounds, while hens average 17 pounds.

Translating this to the retail level, if the turkey you purchased at the store weighs 16-24 pounds, then it’s a tom, if it weighs 8 to 16 pounds, then it’s a hen.