Thanksgiving is synonymous with turkey, serving as the centerpiece of the traditional holiday meal. The National Turkey Federation reports that approximately 88 percent of Americans consume turkey on Thanksgiving, translating to over 46 million turkeys eaten on the fourth Thursday in November.
Despite increased interest in alternatives and plant-based foods, the popularity of turkey has risen in recent years.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reveals that the country produced over five billion pounds of turkey last year, with more than 4.8 billion pounds consumed domestically.
Even with challenges like the 2022 turkey shortage caused by avian flu outbreaks and supply chain issues, the U.S. has maintained a high turkey production.
Tradition of consuming turkey on Thanksgiving remains strong
In 2022, wholesale prices for frozen whole turkey hens rose to an average of $1.55 per pound, 32 cents higher than in 2021. However, a report from the American Farm Bureau Federation indicates that turkey prices are expected to decrease this year due to increased production.
The average price of an 8- to 16-pound turkey was $1.27 per pound in August 2023, a significant 22 percent decrease from the same month in 2022. With turkey production on the rise, the individual cost of each bird is expected to be more affordable than in the previous year.
While it’s commonly believed that turkey has been a staple of Thanksgiving since the first celebration in 1621, historical records suggest otherwise.
Thanksgiving in 2023 is set for Thursday, November 23. Understanding why the date changes each year is crucial for planning favorite family Thanksgiving traditions and possibly getting a jumpstart on Christmas shopping.
Thanksgiving consistently falls on the fourth Thursday of November, ensuring that it can range from the 22nd to the 28th. This tradition was established in the 1930s when, after two years of Thanksgiving falling on the fifth Thursday, a law was passed in 1941, making it the fourth Thursday every November.