November 22, 2021

It’s Going To Be The Most Expensive Thanksgiving In History

by Surbhi Kapoor & John Cho

As inflation winds its way through everything from gas prices to canned pumpkin, this year’s Thanksgiving is looking to be the most expensive ever in history, according to the New York Times.

So what are we seeing in food costs this season?

Restaurants are already preparing to pay more for produce, meats and canned ingredients:

Matthew McClure paid 20 percent more this month than he did last year for the 25 pasture-raised turkeys he plans to roast at the Hive, the Bentonville, Ark., restaurant where he is the executive chef. And Norman Brown, director of sweet-potato sales for Wada Farms in Raleigh, N.C., is paying truckers nearly twice as much as usual to haul the crop to other parts of the country.

Source: New York Times

At Ottimate, we help restaurants track and manage their food costs through invoice automation, payment innovation and cashback. Invoice automation helps us track and analyze price trends of restaurant food supplies week after week, month after month.

Here’s some trends that we’re seeing: 

Stock Up On Canned Pumpkin, Because It’s Skyrocketing

Our analysis of invoice data shows that canned pumpkin prices are up 16% since August 2021.

This is reflective of the overall increase in canned goods costs due to the rise in price of steel. So if you’re looking to get your Thanksgiving pies out, stock up on canned pumpkin before the prices jump again!

Turkey: Cheaper than last year, actually

Turkey – the Thanksgiving star. No celebration would be complete without it, to the extent that turkeys feature prominently in presidential pardons, of all things. 

Fortunately, turkey prices are not skyrocketing as much as canned pumpkins, although price spikes are occurring. Overall, turkey is up about 5% since August, but brace for spikes as we head into later this week. 

The surprising news? Turkey prices are actually down compared to Nov of 2020! 

Sweet Potatoes and Yams – Expect A Spike This Week

Sweet potatoes and yams – you either hate it or love it. This root vegetable has incredibly staunch haters and lovers – from sweet potato fries to casseroles. 

Sweet potatoes spiked about 38% in September which is typical for late summer as growers gear up for harvesting in fall. Our data reflects this, with a spike in September, followed by a steep fall in October as supply ramps up. 

However, our data is showing prices creeping back up again – as of November, yams are still up by about 11% since August. 

Expect prices to spike again this week as every household rushes out for their casserole ingredients. 

Mac N Cheese, Cranberry Sauce: Could be a real bargain!

While Thanksgiving this year may be the most expensive on record, there are some silver linings for a few mainstay dishes.

Mac & Cheese is actually down, by a lot, like 40% down from its peak in early September. Kids will love this recent development. 

Same story with cranberry sauce – clear winner in the price department here with a 32% drop in prices. That should make a lot of turkey-and-cranberry sauce aficionados very happy indeed.

So what’s driving all these price increases and volatility?

A knotted-up nation-wide supply chain, international trade that is gnarled up in shipping disruptions, sky high transportation costs, postage delays, bad weather and most of all – labor shortages, had led to the food cost spikes we’re seeing today. 

Unfortunately, we don’t see any real time fixes for prices at the moment as supply chains work to untie themselves. 

But the good news is that companies can take action now to manage their costs better. There are a few ways to do this:

Stay on top of costs by digitizing and automation invoices faster. 

Invoice digitization is an incredibly powerful tool – by automatically capturing line item data on your invoices, your back office team will be able to get standardized pricing data that can show you exactly how costs are trending – allowing you to stay ahead of increasing costs. 

Read about how we catch credit invoices using Deep Learning

Boost margins with cashback on invoice spend

Did you know that you could be earning cashback on vendor payments? Ottimate’s VendorPay Network connects restaurants with over 180,000 vendors that you can pay directly from your AP platform. Payments made through the VendorPay Network are eligible for cashback – get a demo today to learn how! 

We’re launching a FREE Food Costs tracking tool – Look up commonly ordered restaurant supplies and benchmark your prices against what other distributors are charging. 

Sign up for our waitlist here

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