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$1.28 billion to be spent on turkey’s for Thanksgiving 2023

Research shows 293.3 million Americans will eat turkey this year.

Americans aren’t the only ones riding the train to Gravy Town and getting stuffed this Thanksgiving. Each year, roughly 88% of Americans eat Thanksgiving turkey, according to the National Turkey Federation.

This means roughly 293.3 million people will eat turkey on Thanksgiving in 2023.

Finder crunched the numbers to find out how much Americans are expected to spend on turkey this coming Thanksgiving compared to last year.

In 2023, Americans will spend an estimated $1.28 billion on festive fowls, a slight increase of roughly $16 million from the $1.27 billion paid for Thanksgiving turkeys in 2022.

This is based on a projection that 16 lb. turkeys will cost $27.90 the week before Thanksgiving. To estimate this cost, we used weekly retail price data from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)’s Agricultural Marketing Service to project the weekly price of a whole frozen turkey during Thanksgiving, gathering data back to 2010.

The cost of turkeys this Thanksgiving

  • 46 million: Number of turkeys expected to be consumed on Thanksgiving Day
  • 293 million: Number of Americans likely to be eating a turkey dinner
  • 88%: Proportion of Americans to be feasting on Thanksgiving turkey
  • $1.3 billion: Spend on turkeys this Thanksgiving

Comparing the cost of a turkey over time

Let’s take a closer look

The average price of a turkey has increased by just 1.3% in 2023, jumping from $27.56 in 2022 to $27.90 in 2023 for a 16-lb. bird. This 1.3% increase is well below the current inflation rate, which sits at 3.7%. Over the past 10 years, the cost of a turkey has risen about twice as fast as inflation, with the cost of a turkey rising on average 4.8% per year compared to 2.7% for inflation.

Quick tips from Finder’s personal finance expert, Laura Adams, MBA, on how to save money on your Thanksgiving meal:

Many ways to save money begin by having a plan, and Thanksgiving dinner is no different. Create your menu as soon as possible so you can shop early and take advantage of grocery discounts. Also, frozen turkeys are usually less expensive than fresh ones, but they take days to thaw. So, don’t make the mistake of waiting to shop for your holiday meal. Otherwise, you’ll pay the most for it.

Other ways to save include purchasing your dinner with a rewards credit card that pays cashback at grocery stores. You might also share the cost of your Thanksgiving meal with family or friends. If everyone chips in and brings a delicious dish, it can make the holiday more affordable for everyone you celebrate with this year.

Fun Thanksgiving turkey facts

  • In 2021, the average American ate 15.3 pounds of turkey.
  • Turkey hens (female) are usually sold as whole birds. Toms (male) are processed into turkey sausage, turkey franks, tenderloins, cutlets and deli meats.
  • The heaviest turkey ever raised was 86 pounds, about the size of a large dog.
  • Male turkeys gobble; hens do not. Female turkeys make a clicking noise.
  • In 2021, 5.1 billion pounds of turkey were consumed in the United States.

Methodology

The number of turkeys eaten each Thanksgiving was sourced from the University of Illinois Extension. The percentage of Americans who eat turkey each Thanksgiving was sourced from the State of Vermont Agency of Agriculture Food and Markets.

To calculate the total spend on turkeys this Thanksgiving, finder.com projected the average cost of a 16-pound turkey this November based on the weekly price of frozen, whole turkeys from the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service. We forecast the price per pound of turkey based on weekly turkey prices since January 2018 using the ratio-to-moving average method to account for the seasonality in turkey prices.

We multiplied the projected cost of a 16-pound turkey by the estimated number of turkeys eaten each Thanksgiving to find the total expected to be spent on Thanksgiving turkeys this year.

Note that the projection method used from last year to this year has changed. The previous year’s projected price was based on the monthly price of turkey, whereas this year’s projected price is based on the weekly price of turkey. Additionally, last year’s total estimate was based on the projected average price of a whole turkey during the month of November, while this year’s total estimate is based on the projected average price of a whole turkey the week of Thanksgiving. This change was made since the monthly average turkey price data has not been updated by the Bureau of Labor Statistics since February 2020.

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Written by

Richard Laycock

Richard Laycock is Finder’s NYC-based senior content marketing manager & insights editor, spending the last decade data diving, writing and editing articles about all things personal finance. His musings can be found across the web including on NASDAQ, MoneyMag, Yahoo Finance and Travel Weekly. Richard studied Media at Macquarie University, including a semester abroad at The Missouri School of Journalism (MIZZOU). See full profile

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