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Thanksgiving turkey

Photo from 2014 by Roberto Rodriguez,

U.S. consumers will stuff a bit more cash into their food budgets to pay for the turkey this Thanksgiving.

That's the forecast from economics firm IHS Markit, which says the average bird will cost 7.9% more this month than it did a year ago. 

You can blame a boom-and-bust agricultural cycle that produced a glut of turkeys in 2018, causing a 10% price drop. Producers cut back supply, leaving fewer birds on the market this year at higher prices.

IHS Markit notes that U.S. consumers have been eating less turkey, with domestic consumption down 3.5% as of August. Exports are up, though, driven by higher demand from Mexico.

The firm expects the average frozen bird to retail for $1.51 a pound this month, up from $1.40 a year ago. In St. Louis, consumers can be thankful that both Schnucks and Dierbergs are advertising turkeys for 79 cents a pound, as long as you spend $25 on other goods in the store.

That makes the birds a loss leader, IHS Markit says. The stores are absorbing wholesale prices that are up almost 23% in the past year.