Turkey is tasty and cranberries delicious, but higher prices are not. If you believe that things seem more expensive this Thanksgiving than last year, you would be correct, for according to a price analysis conducted by AdvisorSmith, the price of Thanksgiving foods from 2019 to 2020 has increased by 9.8%, or almost 10% over a period of one year.
With the Thanksgiving holiday fast approaching, Americans around the country are preparing their menus for the traditional holiday. This year, Thanksgiving celebrations may be a bit different given the effects of the coronavirus pandemic leading to smaller family gatherings with fewer people and potentially less holiday travel. Additionally, the pandemic has led to some disruption in food supply chains, as some food supply workers have been sickened with the virus.
AdvisorSmith examined a basket of staple foods from the Thanksgiving table to understand how these trends have affected the pricing of the ingredients for Thanksgiving dinner. We compared recent prices for common Thanksgiving foods in October and November compared with the previous year at both retail and wholesale, as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to find the change in the cost of a basket of Thanksgiving foods.
AdvisorSmith found that a basket of Thanksgiving foods costs approximately 9.8% more in 2020 when compared to Thanksgiving of 2019. The foods included in our analysis were turkey, vegetables, and baking & bread. Vegetables included were potatoes, cranberries, squash, sweet potatoes, corn, green beans, and pumpkin. Baking and bread products included flour, white bread, milk, eggs, and butter. (source)
As much as the price of food has increased, and it is true that as a trend, the price of food is becoming more expensive (evidenced by not merely price increases, but the fact that food package sizes are decreasing in spite of prices remaining the same, which is a covert form of price change), one can be thankful that one is living in the US, which is arguably the largest food producer in the world and as such is not subject to the same sudden political shocks that can and do affect the rest of the world. A price increase in turkey or chicken may be painful and one cannot buy the ingredients for that pie that one wants to make, but a pork price increase in China or a wheat price increase in Saudi Arabia may mean the difference between eating today and actual hunger tomorrow.
However, this does not mean that price increases cannot happen, or that one should not be prepared. To that, one may also want to remember that the purpose of Thanksgiving is not to show off to one’s neighbors, or just to eat turkey and certain culturally-acceptable foods for the day, for while the former is vanity and the latter is certainly a good thing, the essence of Thanksgiving is to be thankful for what one has and to enjoy it with one’s family and loved ones. One can be thankful on Thanksgiving even if it means one can only eat on paper plates out of food that was served from cans while wearing a thick sweater because one neither has the money to pay for a “proper” meal nor for fuel to put into the heater, for while it is naturally more difficult to do so, there is always a silver lining even in difficult times.
Do you have COVID? Did you survive COVID? Do you have a home? Food to eat? Water to drink? Indoor plumbing? A clean toilet? A car with gas in the tank? A phone? Indoor heating? Blankets to sleep under? All of these things are not just theoretical, but practical realities to be thankful for, regardless if one is eating turkey or not.
The 2020s are going to be a decade of escalation. That escalation will involve political changes forced by economic changes, since economics consistently precedes politics as a historical trend. People will get, on average, poorer not because of a lack of industry or desire, but that more will be expected and, ontologically speaking, will unable to be realized in order to maintain the current standard of living. The result will be poorer people, less spending, and overall, a more “worn” look on the face of America. One can already see this in the grocery stores, where having talked with people who work in this retail sector, there is a consistent observation that due to a combination of less purchasing (likely related to economic reasons), supply chain disruptions, and less purchasing from corporate, consistent product scarcity is becoming a normal reality that few seem to fully realize is taking place.
Dare I make a prediction, but the stories I heard for years as a child from people who survived the USSR are seeming to, very slowly, come to reflect conditions in the US, that while certainly not to the same extent, seem to be a creeping reality that may, if trends in the future continue, become a “normal” reality.
That said, Thanksgiving 2020 should not be looked at with sadness. Instead, it is a time to enjoy, to celebrate, and to remember that while much is ahead, there is much to be thankful for no matter what the time is, and that there is always a better future if one desires to work for it.
Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at Shoebat.com.