Tuesday, November 22, 2022

Federal Reserve Suggests Americans Replace Thanksgiving Turkeys With Soybeans

That was last year's handy hint from the Fed statisticians at the St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank's FRED blog:

The FRED® Blog
Turkey or Tofurkey?
A protein price comparison for the Thanksgiving meal


This is the time of the year to give thanks, and the FRED Blog is thankful for the rich variety of data series and data sources available in FRED. In years past, we’ve tapped data from the International Monetary Fund, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, and Eurostat to assemble tasty graphs showing the price of traditional Thanksgiving meals. Today, we compare a poultry-based meal with a plant-based meal.

Let’s start with a data literacy appetizer. The FRED graph above plots the quarterly global prices of poultry (including turkey) in orange and soybeans (the main ingredient in tofu) in green, as reported by the International Monetary Fund. Savor the fact that the units of each series are different: poultry prices are reported in U.S. cents per pound of meat (on the left axis), and soybean prices are reported in U.S. dollars per metric ton (on the right axis).

Also, notice how relatively stable the prices of both commodities are from quarter to quarter. Even though the data are not seasonally adjusted, the prices do not regularly increase or decrease during a calendar year. We can thank the global supply of both commodities for the lack of seasonality in prices.

Now for the main course: turkey (i.e., poultry) or tofurkey (i.e., soybeans)? According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, roasted turkey has almost 3 times the caloric value and 1.5 times the protein value of an equivalent serving of fried tofu by weight. Between 1990 and the time of this writing, the average global price of poultry has been 6 times higher than the price of soybeans.

As of the third quarter of 2021, a hearty Thanksgiving dinner serving of turkey costs $1.42. A tofurkey (soybean) dinner serving with the same amount of calories costs $0.66 and provides almost twice as much protein. Keep in mind that this plant-based meal would be almost 3 times larger by weight than the poultry-based meal and may either keep you at the dinner table longer or provide you with more leftovers. Of course, our calculations here don’t include the time value, energy costs, and additional ingredients required to cook the meals....


 And from the American Farm Bureau's Newsroom, November 16, 2022:

Farm Bureau Survey Shows Thanksgiving Dinner Cost Up 20%


Spending time with family and friends at Thanksgiving remains important for many Americans and this year the cost of the meal is also top of mind. Farm Bureau’s 37th annual survey provides a snapshot of the average cost of this year’s classic Thanksgiving feast for 10, which is $64.05 or less than $6.50 per person. This is a $10.74 or 20% increase from last year’s average of $53.31.

The centerpiece on most Thanksgiving tables – the turkey – costs more than last year, at $28.96 for a 16-pound bird. That’s $1.81 per pound, up 21% from last year, due to several factors beyond general inflation. Farm Bureau “volunteer shoppers” checked prices Oct. 18-31, before most grocery store chains began featuring whole frozen turkeys at sharply lower prices. According to USDA Agricultural Marketing Service data, the average per-pound feature price for whole frozen turkeys was $1.11 the week of Nov. 3-9 and 95 cents the week of Nov. 10-16, a decline of 14% in just one week; and the share of stores offering feature prices rose from 29% to 60%. This means consumers who have not yet purchased a turkey should be able to find one at a lower cost than the Farm Bureau average....


Tofurkey? What is this tofurkey you speak of?