A Thanksgiving dinner is displayed on a table in Concord, N.H., on Oct. 22, 2012. While inflation, avian flu and ongoing supply chain strife have costs on the rise, Thanksgiving staples are largely available in Juneau supermarkets. (AP Photo / Matthew Mead)

A Thanksgiving dinner is displayed on a table in Concord, N.H., on Oct. 22, 2012. While inflation, avian flu and ongoing supply chain strife have costs on the rise, Thanksgiving staples are largely available in Juneau supermarkets. (AP Photo / Matthew Mead)

Fowl prices, but fair selection for Thanksgiving

Illness and inflation puts turkey prices at all-time high, but stores thankful supplies are arriving

Yes, that turkey dinner is going to cost a lot more this year, but be thankful most everything seems available at most local supermarkets. And given the prices of frozen turkeys after millions of birds were killed by avian flu, perhaps the prices and convenience of those pre-cooked birds and meal packages may seem more of a blessing.

“The supply chain is much better than last year’s” said Rick Wilson, general manager of Foodland IGA. But “everything is more expensive” due to ongoing inflation that has boosted national grocery prices 12.4% during the past year, according to the Consumer Price Index, in addition to the shortage of turkeys due to illness.

A chart shows prices for individual Thanksgiving dinner items at Juneau’s four major supermarkets, and at Rainbow Foods where such items were available on Tuesday. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

A chart shows prices for individual Thanksgiving dinner items at Juneau’s four major supermarkets, and at Rainbow Foods where such items were available on Tuesday. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

It’s possible to pay $1.79 a pound for a frozen turkey at Foodland, for instance, totalling about $22 for a 12-pound bird, or a person dreading the hours of basting for a dry and fowl experience can order a freshly smoked turkey for $50 from the deli to pick up the day before Thanksgiving.

“They’re available until we run out,” Wilson said about ordering the turkeys and full dinner packages. “They have only have so many come in. I don’t where they are in the count.”

Full dinner packages for up to eight people with regular and smoked turkeys from the more corporate kitchens of Fred Meyer and Safeway aren’t all that much more costly at about $90 (Foodland’s dinner package for five people is $110). Safeway and Fred Meyer also offer other pre-cooked meal packages including ham (for roughly the same cost as a turkey dinner) and lower-cost boneless/breast turkey packages for fewer people.

A 10-item shopping list commonly used to compare the year-to-year cost of Thanksgiving dinner shows broad differences among Juneau’s four main supermarkets. But the prices include large seasonal discounts on some items and omit store-specific customer programs that may provide additional discounts. The prices also reflect items available on Nov. 15, so some lower-cost items may be in stock during the next week. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

A 10-item shopping list commonly used to compare the year-to-year cost of Thanksgiving dinner shows broad differences among Juneau’s four main supermarkets. But the prices include large seasonal discounts on some items and omit store-specific customer programs that may provide additional discounts. The prices also reflect items available on Nov. 15, so some lower-cost items may be in stock during the next week. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Super Bear IGA is not offering pre-cooked meal or turkey options this year.

An in-person and online shopping tour of the four supermarkets on Nov. 15 shows it’s possible at all stores to purchase all 10 items on a classic shopping list used to compare year-to-year prices nationally. But some less-costly brands were out of stock, with available alternatives costing significantly more.

Also, some items not on the list — such as butter, eggs and lettuce – are seeing huge price spikes, although not consistently by store. Foodland, for example, was charging $7.19 a head for iceberg lettuce compared to $2.99 at Fred Meyer, yet butter was about $4 a pound at Foodland and about $5.50 at Fred Meyer.

Beyond Juneau’s four main supermarkets it’s also possible to pay 99 cents a pound for a frozen Costco turkey or $5.99 a pound and above for natural/organic frozen birds at Rainbow Foods.

For those truly in need of a reason to be thankful, free Thanksgiving food baskets can be ordered at least until Thursday and will be delivered Saturday through a joint effort by St. Vincent de Paul, the Salvation Army and the Glory Hall are combining resources to provide food for those who are struggling during this Thanksgiving season.

“Food baskets will be prepared by volunteers and delivered on Saturday, November 19 between 9:30 a.m. and 2 p.m.,” an announcement at St. Vincent de Paul’s website states. “We can guarantee food for those who sign up by Thursday, November 17, and we hope to honor all (subsequent) requests as we have the past two years.”

The Salvation Army will also be hosting its annual communal Thanksgiving dinner, which will again be in person after being limited to pick-up containers during the COVID-19 pandemic. The meal is scheduled from 11-1 p.m. at the Juneau Yacht Club.

• Contact Mark Sabbatini at mark.sabbatini@juneauempire.com

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