Cost of Classic Thanksgiving Dinner Up Slightly This Year

11/17/2012 7:00 AM

WASHINGTON — The retail cost of menu items for a classic Thanksgiving dinner with turkey, stuffing, cranberries, pumpkin pie and all the basic trimmings increased less than 1 percent this year, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation.

Farm Bureau’s 27th annual informal price survey indicates the average cost of this year’s feast for 10 is $49.48, a 28-cent increase from last year’s average of $49.20.

“At just under $5 per person, the cost of this year’s meal remains a bargain,” said Bob Stallman, the organization’s president and a rice and cattle producer from Texas. “During this holiday season, I am encouraging farmers and ranchers to reach out to consumers in-person or through social media, to answer questions about the food that they grow or the livestock and poultry they raise.”

The 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 beverages of coffee and milk, all in quantities sufficient to serve an extended family of 10. There is also plenty for leftovers.

The big ticket item — a 16-pound turkey — came in at $22.23 this year. That was roughly $1.39 per pound, an increase of about 4 cents per pound, or a total of 66 cents per whole turkey, compared with 2011. The whole bird was the biggest contributor to the final total, showing the largest price increase compared with last year.

“Thanksgiving dinner is a special meal that people look forward to all year,” said John Anderson, Farm Bureau’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.

Savvy shoppers may pay even less for frozen tom turkey compared with Farm Bureau’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 said. “Anyone with the patience to wait until the last minute to buy a turkey for Thanksgiving could be rewarded with an exceptional bargain.”

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 and serve rolls also increased slightly this year, up 3 cents to $2.33.

Items that showed a price decrease from last year were a half pint of whipping cream, $1.83, down 13 cents; a 14-ounce package of cubed bread stuffing, $2.77, down 11 cents; 3 pounds of sweet potatoes, $3.15, down 11 cents; a gallon of whole milk, $3.59, down 7 cents; fresh cranberries, $2.45, down 3 cents; 1 pound of green peas, $1.66, down 2 cents; a 30-ounce can of pumpkin pie mix and two 9-inch pie shells, $5.53, down 2 cents.

Source: American Farm Bureau Federation.


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