Thanksgiving: Consumers are buying bigger turkeys despite inflation, says Butterball CEO

Thanksgiving gatherings are back, according to the CEO behind the turkey brand Butterball.

In a recent interview with Yahoo Finance, Jay Jandrain said, "We're seeing larger size gatherings now, we're seeing a resurgence for people to have that Thanksgiving meal" after COVID-19 impacted the past two years, leading many consumers to have smaller groups for holiday gatherings.

"Expectation is very high for participation and they are going to be larger groups ... They'll probably be demand for some of the larger birds as well, so it's kind of getting back to normal pre-COVID, which is a certainly a good thing for all of us," Jandrain said.

In Butterball's 2022 Thanksgiving Outlook survey conducted earlier this year, it found that 90% of people plan to celebrate and 90% of people plan to buy the same size or an even larger turkey than last year. The survey was conducted online with 1,005 U.S. adults between July 6-7, 2022.

(Courtesy: Butterball)
(Courtesy: Butterball)

Only 8% of those surveyed were concerned about the impact of inflation on costs and said they plan to shrink their guest list to get a handle on higher costs.

This comes as the price of Thanksgiving overall is up 20% year-over-year, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation. The average price of a 16-pound bird now costing consumers $28.96, up 4.97% from $23.99 last year.

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Some aspects driving costs higher include rising prices for fuel, fertilizer, feed, and packaging.

Feed is the "single biggest cost" driving prices higher, Jandrain said, with corn and soybean prices rising, as well as micro-ingredients that go into feed.

Soybean futures (ZS=F) are up nearly 14% compared to a year ago, while corn futures (ZC=F) are up 17%.

Butterball decided to pass the price increase along to the consumer, as seen across the food sector with the cost of groceries up 12.4% year-over-year.

"Despite all of our efforts and cost savings and other initiatives to help moderate that, there is some that does have to get passed on the consumer, but our folks have worked very, very carefully to make sure that we keep it as nominal as possible," he explained.

Brooke DiPalma is a reporter for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter at @BrookeDiPalma or email her at bdipalma@yahoofinance.com.

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