THANKSGIVING DINNER COSTS HIGHER THIS YEAR
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Menu items for the traditional Thanksgiving dinner with turkey, stuffing, cranberries, pumpkin pie and all the trimmings will cost more this year, but remain affordable, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation.
According to AFBF's 22nd annual informal survey of the prices of basic items found on the Thanksgiving Day dinner table, the average cost of this year's dinner for 10 is $42.26, a $4.16 price increase from last year's average of $38.10.
"Americans are blessed to have an abundant variety of home-grown food that is produced with pride by our hardworking farmers and ranchers," said AFBF President Bob Stallman. "During the holiday season, especially as we celebrate Thanksgiving with friends and family, it's appropriate to reflect on and give thanks for this bounty."
The AFBF survey shopping list includes turkey, 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.
The cost of a 16-pound turkey, at $17.63 or roughly $1.10 per pound, reflects an increase of 12 cents per pound, or a total of $1.93 per turkey compared to 2006. This is the largest contributor to the overall increase in the cost of the 2007 Thanksgiving dinner.
"The inventory of birds in cold storage is relatively small this year. This has helped drive up the average retail turkey price," said Jim Sartwelle, an AFBF economist. "The tremendous increase in energy costs for transportation and processing over the past year also is a key factor behind higher retail prices at the grocery store."
Other items showing a price increase this year included: a gallon of whole milk, $3.88; a 30-oz. can of pumpkin pie mix, $2.13; three pounds of sweet potatoes, $3.08; two 9-inch pie shells, $2.08; a 12-oz. package of brown-n-serve rolls, $1.89; a half-pint of whipping cream, $1.56; and a 12-oz. package of fresh cranberries, $2.20.
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 by 66 cents to $3.29.
"All of the dairy products included in the survey increased significantly in price over the past year due to skyrocketing world demand," Sartwelle said.
Items that decreased slightly in price this year were: a 14-oz. package of cube stuffing, $2.40; and a relish tray of carrots and celery, 66 cents. A pound of green peas remained the same in price at $1.46.
Sartwelle said on average, American consumers have enjoyed stable food costs over the years, particularly when you adjust for inflation. The inflation-adjusted cost of a Thanksgiving dinner has remained around $20 for the past 17 years.
"Consumers can enjoy a wholesome, home-cooked turkey dinner for just over $4 per person -- less than a typical fast-food meal. That's an amazing deal, any way you slice it," Sartwelle said.
Farm Bureau volunteer shoppers are asked to look for the best possible prices, without taking advantage of special promotional coupons or purchase deals, such as spend $50 and receive a free turkey.
Shoppers with an eye for bargains in all areas of the country should be able to purchase individual menu items at prices comparable to the Farm Bureau survey averages. Another option for busy families without a lot of time to cook is ready-to-eat Thanksgiving meals for up to 10 people, with all the trimmings, which are available at many supermarkets and take-out restaurants for around $50 to $75.
The AFBF survey was first conducted in 1986. This year's average cost of $42.26 is equivalent to $20.46 in inflation-adjusted dollars. The real dollar cost of the Thanksgiving dinner has declined 9 percent in the last 20 years, according to Sartwelle. While Farm Bureau does not make any statistical claims about the data, it is a gauge of price trends around the nation.
A total of 151 volunteer shoppers from 31 states participated in this year's survey. Farm Bureau's survey menu has remained unchanged since 1986 to allow for consistent price comparisons.