Price of Thanksgiving dinner for 10 breaks $50 for the first time

By Whitney Forman-Cook

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.



WASHINGTON, Nov. 19, 2015 - The American Farm Bureau Federation's annual Thanksgiving dinner survey found this year's holiday feast for 10 will cost on average $50.11 - 70 cents more than last year's - marking the first year to break $50.

“Retail prices seem to have stabilized quite a bit for turkey, which is the centerpiece of the meal in our marketbasket,” John Anderson, AFBF's deputy chief economist, said in a statement released Thursday. A highly pathogenic avian influenza outbreak this year wiped out 7.5 million turkeys - 7.5 percent of the nation's flock - but Anderson said the price of turkey sustained only “a modest increase” of 9 cents per pound, compared to 2014.

Lets Talk Food

“We're now starting to see retailers feature turkeys aggressively for the holiday,” Anderson added, which has meant turkey prices have fallen “sharply” to rates lower than last year.

The Farm Bureau's Thanksgiving shopping list included a 16-pound turkey - which cost $23.04 this year, up $1.39 from last year - bread stuffing, sweet potatoes, rolls with butter, peas, cranberries, a relish tray of carrots and celery, pumpkin pie with whipped cream, and beverages of coffee and milk, all in quantities sufficient to serve a family of 10 with plenty of leftovers.

AFBF's report found three other items in addition to turkey that rose in price from last year. They included a 30-ounce can of pumpkin pie mix, at an average cost of $3.20, up 8 cents from last year; a 14-ounce package of cubed bread stuffing, $2.61, up 7 cents; and two nine-inch pie shells, $2.47, up 5 cents.

“Despite concerns earlier this fall about pumpkin production due to wet weather, the supply of canned product will be adequate for this holiday season,” Anderson said.

Most of the grocery items went down in price, however, the survey found. For instance, one gallon of whole milk this year cost $3.25, down 51 cents; a combined group of miscellaneous items (coffee and ingredients necessary to prepare the meal like butter, evaporated milk, onions, eggs, sugar and flour), $3.18, down 30 cents total; a half pint of whipped cream, $1.94, down 6 cents; 12 ounces of fresh cranberries, $2.29, down 5 cents; one-pound relish tray of carrots and celery cost 79 cents, down 3 cents; and one pound of green peas cost $1.52, down 3 cents.

“America's farmers and ranchers are able to provide a bounty of food for a classic Thanksgiving dinner that many of us look forward to all year,” Anderson said. “We are fortunate to be able to provide a special holiday meal for 10 people for just over $5 per serving.”

Farm Bureau's average prices for 2015 were close to Consumer Price Index numbers for eating-in, the group said. For instance, in October, the most recent month available, the food at home CPI posted a 0.7 percent increase compared to a year ago.

This year's survey was conducted over 32 states by 138 volunteer shoppers, who were instructed to look for the best prices and not to use coupons or other promotional deals. AFBF found that ready-to-eat Thanksgiving meals for 10 people were available for purchase at supermarkets and take-out restaurants for between $50 and $75.

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On the subject of Thanksgiving foodstuffs, the National Farmers Union released its Farmer's Share of the Retail Food Dollar report for the holiday on Wednesday.

NFU's report findings, based on USDA's monthly Agriculture Prices report and price points for common grocery food items at Safeway supermarket, suggest that American farmers will receive an average of 19.4 cents to the dollar on the retail prices of 15 Thanksgiving food items. The report also found:

  • ·      Wheat farmers receive 7 cents out of the $3.39 consumers spend on a 15-ounce box of stuffing.
  • ·      Turkey farmers net 93 cents out of the $1.78 retail value for a pound of turkey.
  • ·      Pumpkin farmers receive 25 cents - just 6.4 percent - of the $3.89 price tag on canned pumpkin pie mix.

“It's easy to forget the true value of our farmers and ranchers, who in some cases are only making pennies to the dollar on the goods we buy at our local supermarket,” NFU President Roger Johnson said in a release.

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