Customers See Costs Rise in Thanksgiving Supplies

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Customers flowed in and out of KTA Super Stores in downtown Hilo on the eve of Thanksgiving. (PC: Nathan Christophel)

By Nathan Christophel

The parking lot at the Downtown KTA Super Stores in Hilo was packed on the eve of Thanksgiving. A steady stream of customers flowed in and out of the grocery store at about 1:30 p.m. Fresh produce, oysters and other Thanksgiving staples could be seen in many, if not most, shopping carts.

Two customers said they definitely noticed an increase in price for most food compared to last year and one commented she was having a hard time finding some of the staples for her Thanksgiving feast.

“The prices are higher and there’s not what I’m looking for,” said Cassandra Clark of Hilo.

With supply-chain issues affecting trade globally, KTA stores have done what they can to ensure their shelves are stocked. KTA Executive Vice PresidentDerek Kurisu said they put orders in for supplies at the beginning of the year to ensure customers didn’t go without.

“We’ve been through a lot of shipping disasters and we’re trying to be proactive so we donʻt run out of stuff,” he said. “It gives us sleepless nights making sure we have supplies. Can you imagine if this island didn’t have pumpkin pies or turkeys?”


Kurisu said the store is able to bring in local products, which also helps bolster supply.

“We’re trying to help local businesses and selling it helps this whole economy,” Kurisu said.

With the supply chain issues, Kurisu said, he has seen prices go up, adding the meat price has gone up tremendously.

Kurisu said the prices of turkeys are up as well, adding value-added turkeys havenʻt been available.

Clark said she was fortunate to find an 8-ounce container of raw oysters at the downtown Hilo store. She searched all of the grocery stores in Hilo, except Safeway, on Monday and Tuesday without luck. And when she did finally find them, she paid more for the smaller container this year than she would normally pay for a serving nearly twice the size in years past.


“It’s gonna be a real skimpy oyster dressing,” Clark said. “I would not have gotten it, but it’s part of our traditional meal.”

She said it’s also been difficult finding whole wheat flour that isn’t old or expiring soon. The newest bag she could find was a 5-pound bag that expires next week already.

Clark estimated her family’s Thanksgiving dinner will cost at least 10% more this year than last.

“Probably more than that,” she said. “You know, everything is so much more expensive, everything.”

Now that she found the oysters and despite dinner being a larger impact on her pocketbook this year, she expects to have a good Thanksgiving.


“I will,” Clark said. “I’m going to have oyster cornbread dressing.”

Sombat Saenguthi, owner of Sombat’s Fresh Thai Cuisine in Hilo, has experienced an increase in the price of food overall.

“One hundred percent up, even wholesale,” she said as she was leaving KTA. “I run a business and we don’t get much profit right now. So if you don’t put the price up, you cannot, because everyone has a hard time.”

Saenguthi has been able to find what she needs for Thanksgiving, however. Peggy, who didn’t want to give her last name, said she also hasn’t had any issues finding what she needs for her family’s holiday feast. The Hawaiian Paradise Park resident added that prices “might be more” this year but it hasn’t caused her any financial hardship.

“It might be more, but, you know, I’m able to do it and afford it,” she said. “And I expect these types of ups and downs to happen. I’m not freaked out by it.”

Tiffany DeMasters contributed to this story.

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