Here’s another helping of good news for this Thanksgiving from the American Farm Bureau Federation.
AFBF’s annual survey of classic items served at the holiday feast puts the average cost for a dinner for 10 at $48.90, or less than $5 a person, and down 22 cents from last year.
“Since 2015, the average cost of Thanksgiving dinner has declined steadily and is now at the lowest level since 2010,” AFBF Chief Economist John Newton said in a news release
The centerpiece on most Thanksgiving tables – the turkey – is slightly cheaper than last year, coming in at $21.71 for a 16-pound bird. That’s about $1.36 per pound, down 3 percent from 2017. The survey results show that retail turkey prices are the lowest since 2014.
“Thanks to an ample supply, turkey remains affordable for consumers, which helps keep the overall cost of the dinner reasonably priced as well,” Newton said.
AFBF says 166 volunteer shoppers checked prices at grocery stores in 37 states for this year’s survey, looking for the best possible prices without taking advantage of special promotional coupons or purchase deals. Their shopping list included turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes, rolls with butter, peas, cranberries, a veggie tray, pumpkin pie with whipped cream, and coffee and milk, all in quantities sufficient to serve a family of 10 with plenty for leftovers.
Foods showing the largest decreases in addition to turkey were a gallon of milk, $2.92; a 3-pound bag of sweet potatoes, $3.39; a 1-pound bag of green peas, $1.47; and a dozen rolls, $2.25.
Several items saw modest price increases including cranberries, pumpkin pie mix and stuffing. A 12-ounce bag of fresh cranberries was $2.65; a 30-ounce can of pumpkin pie mix was $3.33; a 14-ounce package of cubed bread stuffing was $2.87; two nine-inch pie shells came in at $2.47 and a 1-pound veggie tray was $.75. A group of miscellaneous items including coffee and ingredients necessary to prepare the meal (butter, evaporated milk, onions, eggs, sugar and flour) was also up slightly, to $3.01.
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Farm Bureau also surveyed the price of a traditional Thanksgiving meal available from popular food delivery services. This revealed that the convenience of food delivery does have a larger price tag. A 16-pound turkey was nearly 50 percent more expensive at nearly $2 per pound when purchased from a food delivery service. Nearly every individual item was more expensive compared to the Farm Bureau average and the total cost of the dinner was about 60 percent higher at about $8 per person.
The average price reported this year by Farm Bureau for a classic Thanksgiving dinner tracks with the government’s Consumer Price Index for food eaten at home. But while the most recent CPI report for food at home shows a 0.1 percent increase over the past year, the Farm Bureau survey shows a decline of less than 1 percent.
After adjusting for inflation, the cost of this year’s Thanksgiving dinner is $19.37, the most affordable in more than a decade.
Jayson Lusk, the head of Purdue University’s Department of Agricultural Economics, said also sees prices for Thanksgiving staples on a par with, if not lower than, the past several years, including the price for turkeys at a 10-year low.
“Agricultural commodity prices, like for corn and soybeans, have been low for some time and have remained low,” Lusk said in a release. “These are the ingredients for a lot of food and are also used to make feed for animals, so that’s one of the drivers,” he said, adding that low energy costs are also adding to the affordability of food.
AFBF’s Thanksgiving dinner survey was first conducted in 1986. Its menu has remained unchanged since then to allow for consistent price comparisons.
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