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November 22, 2010   Email to Friend 

TRADITIONAL HOLIDAY MEAL STILL AFFORDABLE FOR FAMILIES
Melissa Martin
(334) 612-5448
November 22, 2010

Thanksgiving is the time of year when families and friends look back on the year and count their blessings.

MONTGOMERY, Ala. -- Thanksgiving is the time of year when families and friends look back on the year and count their blessings. As shoppers fill in those extra seats at the dining room table this year, it's the perfect time to give thanks for the feast before them -- and the farmers who helped put it there. Despite a modest increase on several items, Thanksgiving dinner ingredients remain affordable. According to a holiday market basket survey conducted by the Alabama Farmers Federation Nov. 1-10, the average cost of pecan halves, smoked ham, turkey, sweet potatoes and apples increased overall, while oranges, cranberry sauce and pre-packaged stuffing prices decreased.

Pecan halves saw the largest price increase this year, up 54 cents to $7.14 a pound; smoked hams increased 23 cents to $2.09 a pound; and whole turkeys were up 14 cents to $1.25 a pound. Also experiencing a slight increase were sweet potatoes, up 13 cents from last year to 95 cents a pound, and apples, up 6 cents to $1.29 a pound. "Turkey Day" accessories were more affordable this holiday season, however. Oranges were down 22 cents to 89 cents a pound; cranberry sauce was down 7 cents to $1.17 a can; and pre-packaged stuffing was down 6 cents to $2.51 a pound.

While stocking up on holiday ingredients will leave a little less money in shoppers' wallets, this year's meal remains a bargain. "At $4.35 per person, our traditional Thanksgiving feast is still a better deal than most fast-food value meals, plus it's a wholesome, home cooked meal," said American Farm Bureau economist John Anderson.

Fortunately for shoppers, specials on other seasonal favorites did extend to the rest of the grocery store. According to the latest results from the Federation's monthly food price survey, the average cost of 20 basic market basket items was $55.23, down 18 cents or three-tenths of 1 percent from October.

In the meat case, shoppers found savings on T-bone steaks, bacon, Boston butts and chuck roasts. T-bone steaks dropped 94 cents to $7.89 a pound; bacon was down 9 cents to $5.17 a pound; Boston butts were 4 cents cheaper at $1.84 a pound; and chuck roasts were down a penny to $3.38 a pound. Meanwhile, pork chops, ground beef, whole fryers and chicken breast prices edged a bit higher. Pork chops were up 6 cents to $3.42 a pound; ground beef increased 6 cents to $2.60 a pound; whole fryers were up 4 cents to $1.24 a pound; and chicken breasts were up 2 cents to $2.25 a pound. Eggs increased 41 cents to $1.63 a dozen.

Lower prices invaded most items along the produce aisle, with tomatoes paving the way for savings -- down 13 cents to $1.68 a pound. Red potatoes and lettuce both decreased 2 cents, priced at 86 cents a pound and $1.39 a head, respectively. Sweet potatoes were 2 cents higher than last month, averaging 95 cents a pound.

Dairy case prices were mixed this month, with butter and milk experiencing the only price increases. Butter was up 41 cents in November to $4.46 a pound, while milk increased 6 cents to $3.11 a half-gallon. Cottage cheese prices fell 4 cents to $2.57 a pound. Ice cream prices remained the same, averaging $4.07 a half-gallon.

Regional reports collected by volunteer shoppers throughout the state Nov. 1-10 showed the market basket averaged $51.62 in northwest Alabama, $53.47 in northeast Alabama, $58.04 in central Alabama, and $60.20 in south Alabama.

Alabama Farmers Federation, a member of the American Farm Bureau Federation, is the state's largest farm organization. Its county members conduct the informal monthly market basket survey as a tool to reflect retail food price trends.


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