It is easy to rag on 2020. The year gave us a global pandemic; wildfires that ravaged Australia and the U.S. west coast; an enormous ammonium nitrate fertilizer stockpile explosion that leveled Beirut; nationwide civil unrest in the U.S.; and it took the lives of Kobe and Gianna Bryant, Kenny Rogers, Charlie Daniels, Chadwick Boseman, Eddie Van Halen, Sean Connery, Alex Trebek, and so many others. One does not need to look for long on social media to see just what people think about the year.
At Medius Ag, we agree it has been a difficult year, but it has also been illuminating. In spite of all the very real challenges everyday Americans face, we believe that we are extraordinarily blessed to live in a country where a perceived shortage of toilet paper is front-page news. Last Friday at Costco we bought fresh apples from Washington, fresh oranges from California, and fresh cranberries from Wisconsin. And if we had wanted to, we could have stocked up on paper towels and facial tissue as well, not to mention toilet paper. It is easy to take such an occurrence for granted during normal times, but pause for a moment and reflect on some of the alarmist headlines you have probably seen recently. We are not suggesting that every item on your shopping list is available in every store all the time, but rather that our country’s supply chain is incredibly resilient and reliable.
For those of us who are unable to travel this Thanksgiving for health considerations–for either ourselves or our loved ones–the physical separation from our families is truly disappointing. FaceTime or Zoom only go so far, especially after so many long months, but at least those are options. But what about the food? In a year when the food supply chain has been stressed, we surely can expect to see shortages and disproportionately high costs affecting the dinner table, right?
Since 1986, the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) has conducted a survey to evaluate the cost of Thanksgiving Day dinner staples. In 2020, AFBF reports that the average price in the U.S. to feed 10 people at Thanksgiving is $46.90, or less than $5 a person. While you may not have 10 people around your table this Thanksgiving, AFBF notes that the survey remained unchanged from prior years to provide consistency. AFBF Chief Economist Dr. John Newton goes on to say, “The average cost of this year’s Thanksgiving dinner is the lowest since 2010.” Click here for more of the interview with Dr. Newton.
It isn’t just 2020 or Thanksgiving, either. For years, American citizens have spent less of their respective paychecks on food. In 2014, USDA’s Economic Research Service made headlines when it reported that the average American household spent just 6.5 percent of its income on food, or more than 2 percent less than the next country. That is a genuinely remarkable statistic, especially when according to the same survey, some developing countries paid more than 50 percent.
While this has undoubtedly been a difficult year, it turns out the biggest challenge for the American consumer in the lead-up to Thanksgiving is finding a smaller turkey. If that is not something to be thankful for, then we don’t know what is.
Happy Thanksgiving from our Medius Ag family to yours!