AgriLife: Traditional Holiday Cooking Costs More | Company

Holiday baking will be more expensive this year as staples like milk, eggs, flour and sugar, as well as some popular side dishes, have all risen since last year, according to a Texas A&M AgriLife expert. Extension Service.

David Anderson, Ph.D., AgriLife Extension economist, Bryan-College Station, said grocery shoppers won’t be surprised that costs have gone up.

The October 13 consumer price index from the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed that the home food index rose 13% over the past 12 months. The index for bakery products increased by 16.2% over the year, while the index for eggs increased by 9% and that for dairy and related products by 15.9%.

Retail reports from the U.S. Department of Agriculture also indicated similar price increases on staple groceries in demand during the holidays.

“The prices of most things we cook with are up, which means holiday lunches and dinners will cost more,” he said. “It’s hard to say to what extent these higher prices are related to Mother Nature – drought and bird flu – or bottlenecks at ports or labor and fuel costs or the Russian-Ukrainian war or companies that raise prices because they can.”

The cost of cooking holiday meals is rising

Some of these typical bakery items are higher due to production issues caused by Mother Nature, while others are rooted in supply and demand market factors.

Egg prices have risen since the spring and are more than $1 a dozen higher — $2.90 from $1.84 — last year due to the impact of avian flu on production, said Anderson. The highly pathogenic viral disease hit the US poultry industry this spring and continues to be a problem on commercial farms.

The USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service reported that more than 49 million commercial poultry, including broilers and laying hens, turkeys and various poultry, have been lost to the virus. , now reported in 46 states.

The deadly disease hits flocks of laying chickens harder because the birds are in production much longer than broiler chickens, increasing their risk of exposure to the pathogen.

“Eggs are in a lot of holiday recipes, and the demand increases at this time of year because of it,” Anderson said. “Eggs will be more expensive this year, but the bird flu epidemic is one of those things that is beyond our control.”

Other products widely used in holiday recipes such as milk, cheese and butter have all seen tight dairy supply this year, while consumption trends for products like butter show demand. increased, he said. Butter costs $4.44 a pound compared to $2.83 a pound last year.

“There has been a continued growth in demand which is limited by milk production and the production of these milk products,” he said. “With butter, we are seeing people using real butter more. There has been a pendulum swing towards clean labels and consumers want a natural product.”

The retail price for a gallon of whole milk in Dallas was $3.29 in October last year and $3.88 this year, according to the USDA.

The cost increases add up

According to USDA Retail Sales and Consumer Price Index reports, most other holiday baking staples rose.

Anderson said other items like cranberries, sweet potatoes and potatoes all rose slightly while sweet onion prices were down 1 cent from the same time last year. Some varieties of fruits and vegetables, such as Russett potatoes, which cost $3.26 a 5-pound bag compared to $2.24 for the same bag last year, rose more.

Sugar and other sweeteners were up 17% from a year ago, according to the consumer price index. Flour and prepared flour mixes are more than 24% higher than a year ago.

Despite widespread price increases on a range of items that frequent Thanksgiving and holiday meals, Anderson said the overall price increases aren’t as dramatic in the context of preparing a meal for a large gathering. of family.

For example, based on the overall index of 13% for food at home, $100 spent last year would cost $113 this year.

“I know the higher costs for everything hit a lot of people hard, especially during the holidays,” he said. “All these increases of 20 cents here and a dollar there add up. But I don’t think they’re enough to drive most consumers away from the traditional recipes and dishes they serve for lunch and dinner.