Price of Thanksgiving dinner up slightly

Published 11:01 pm Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The cost to put a classic Thanksgiving dinner on the table this year has increased only one percent from 2011, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation.

The AFBF has been tracking the national average price of groceries commonly used at Thanksgiving meals for 27 years and said for 2012, the average cost of this year’s feast for 10 is $49.48. That’s up 28 cents from last year.

“At just under $5 per person, the cost of this year’s meal remains a bargain,” said AFBF President Bob Stallman, a rice and cattle producer from Texas.

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The AFBF survey shopping list includes turkey, bread stuffing, sweet potatoes, rolls with butter, peas, cranberries, a relish tray of carrots and celery, pumpkin pie with whipped cream and coffee and milk – all in quantities to serve 10 people, with leftovers.

“Thanksgiving Dinner is a special meal that people look forward to all year,” said John Anderson, AFBF’s deputy chief economist. “Most Americans will pay about the same as last year at the grocery store for a turkey and all the trimmings. A slight increase in demand for turkey is responsible for the moderate price increase our shoppers reported for the bird,” he said.

Turkeys are the big-ticket item for Thanksgiving and a 16-pound bird came in at about $22.23 this year. That was roughly $1.39 per pound, an increase of four cents per pound from last year.

Savvy shoppers may pay even less for frozen tom turkey compared to AFBF’s 155 volunteer shoppers who checked prices at grocery stores in 35 states.

“Turkeys may still be featured in special sales and promotions close to Thanksgiving,” Anderson explained. “Anyone with the patience to wait until the last minute to buy a turkey for Thanksgiving could be rewarded with an exceptional bargain,” he said.

In addition to the turkey, a combined group of miscellaneous items, including coffee and ingredients necessary to prepare the meal (onions, eggs, sugar, flour, evaporated milk and butter) increased in price, to $3.18. A dozen brown-n-serve rolls also increased slightly this year, up 3 cents to $2.33.

Items that decreased in price were whipping cream, bread stuffing, sweet potatoes, milk, cranberries, green peas, pumpkin pie mix and pie shells.

Looking back at previous years, the cost for Thanksgiving dinner for 10 was an average of $28.74 in 1986, $31.66 in 1996 and $38.10 in 2006.

The AFBF survey was first conducted in 1986. While Farm Bureau does not make any scientific claims about the data, it is an informal gauge of price trends around the nation. Farm Bureau’s survey menu has remained unchanged since 1986 to allow for consistent price comparisons.