From Where We Are

Pumpkin to talk about: supply chain shortages lead to expensive Thanksgiving dinner

High demand and low supply are making this year’s holiday fixings some of the most expensive.

Katya Gonzales is a senior majoring in human biology. She says for students who are going home or elsewhere to celebrate Thanksgiving, travel costs are a big concern.

Katya Gonzales: For me personally, mostly just travel expenses thinking about like how much train tickets or like gas costs to go visit my family and spend Thanksgiving with them.

A law, history and culture major, Valeria Olmedo, says her mother is worried about how prices have gone up since last year.

Valeria Olmedo: Coming like from a low-income community like, you really feel that difference. We’ll probably go to a food pantry rather than go to an actual store and buy the food.

The Director of the Center for Global supply chain management at USC’s Marshall School of Business is Nick Vyas. To explain why turkey costs more, he uses the example of another delicacy.

Nick Vyas: If you are going to buy a burrito and before the pandemic, it used to cost you $6, and today your order the same burrito. Maybe it was smaller than what you used to get, it costs you $9. And then you would wonder what happened? is this because now they’re making less profit? An answer could be that, no, it is not because the profit has gone up, but rather the cost of all the ingredients that goes into making the burrito has similarly gone up. and that’s the situation we’re seeing in transportation, with labor, and the cost. All of those things has gone up substantially.

The Department of Agriculture says the price of frozen turkeys is up twenty-five cents a pound since last year. It’s expected to increase in the coming weeks. This year’s Thanksgiving turkey will be some of the most expensive ever. Marshall school’s Nick Vyas says welcome to the post-pandemic economy.

Nick Vyas: When everything started to open up, we just didn’t have enough capacity, resources, equipment, labor. So all of a sudden there was a big scarcity and shortages and then the prices shot up. The price always works in supply and demand, and when there’s a lot more demand, and less supply available it goes up. In some cases, the prices went up by almost tenfold.

The key this year might be to shop early, or you might end up with chicken this thanksgiving. For Annenberg Media, I’m Ashley Carnahan.