Consumers could see lower prices on holiday hams and turkeys this year, said Dr. David Anderson, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension economist in College Station.
Anderson said wholesale prices on whole turkeys and hams are below the five-year average. Wholesale hams are at 75 cents per pound compared to an 80-cent average over the past five years, while turkeys are 83 cents per pound versus $1.15 per pound on average the past five years.
“We haven’t seen any retail numbers yet, but with wholesale prices where they are, we should expect to see lower prices than last year at the grocery store,” he said. “That all depends on the stores’ strategy, but typically we see them offer special prices on seasonal items like turkeys to get people into the stores.”
Anderson said the turkey industry has struggled the past few years in which losses or lower profits were the norm. Production numbers remained steady compared to last year, but prices have dipped.
Wholesale prices were significantly lower than last year, he said. Whole turkeys at wholesale were $1.23 per pound compared to 83 cents this year.
How wholesale market numbers translate into prices at grocers will depend on the store, Anderson said. He said he expected lower prices when he and his wife recently visited a retail store to purchase their Thanksgiving Day turkey.
“Stores have different strategies, but they have to have turkeys in the store this time of year,” he said. “Some will lose money on turkeys to get people to the store and make it up elsewhere. But I remember thinking ‘I was hoping for a better price than this’ after seeing the wholesale numbers.”
Anderson said another popular holiday option – hams – have seen a decline in wholesale prices heading into the holiday season. A record-setting year for U.S. pork production and low feed prices likely contributed to low prices.
“Overall, it looks like it should be a good holiday season for consumers,” he said. “If they wait or look for good deals, they’re likely to find some good prices.”