Thanksgiving dinner cost goes up ‘a tad’

The American Farm Bureau Federation’s 30th annual informal price survey of classic items found on the Thanksgiving dinner table indicates the average cost for a meal for 10 is $50.11, a 70-cent increase from last year’s average of $49.41.

Farm Bureau said the price of turkey has gone up due to avian influenza, but the National Turkey Federation pointed out today that USDA’s latest weekly survey of advertised retail prices for the consumers’ choice of frozen turkey hens dropped 18 cents per pound from the previous week, and remained a penny cheaper per pound than last year in the week before Thanksgiving

“Promotional discounts for frozen turkey hens are an excellent buy for shoppers, in addition to regular advertised prices,” said National Turkey Federation President Joel Brandenberger.

“The growing and marketing of Thanksgiving turkey is handled specifically to meet the annual demand at Thanksgiving with discount promotions to bring shoppers in for the biggest grocery week of the year,” he said.

“Also, because of that featured promotion, stores work much earlier to secure their supplies by contracting with their wholesale distributors.”

Losses among the turkey population from avian influenza were held to 3 percent and disproportionately centered on a few states in the upper Midwest, while other regions of the widely dispersed growing states continued to produce turkeys, the turkey group said. The avian flu struck growers in late April, with the last case over in June, the federation added.

USDA projects 228 million turkeys will be produced by year’s end.

The Farm Bureau 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 10 people.

Foods showing the largest increases this year in addition to turkey were pumpkin pie mix, a dozen brown-and-serve rolls, cubed bread stuffing and pie shells. A 30-ounce can of pumpkin pie mix was $3.20; a 14-ounce package of cubed bread stuffing, $2.61; and two 9-inch pie shells, $2.47.

“Despite concerns earlier this fall about pumpkin production due to wet weather, the supply of canned product will be adequate for this holiday season,” Farm Bureau Chief Economist John Anderson said.

Items that declined modestly in price were mainly dairy items including one gallon of whole milk, $3.25; a combined group of miscellaneous items, including coffee and ingredients necessary to prepare the meal (butter, evaporated milk, onions, eggs, sugar and flour), $3.18; a half pint of whipping cream, $1.94; and 12 ounces of fresh cranberries, $2.29.

A one-pound relish tray of carrots and celery (79 cents) and one pound of green peas ($1.52) also decreased slightly in price.

The average cost of the dinner has remained around $49 since 2011 and this year’s survey totaled over $50 for the first time, Farm Bureau added.

–The Hagstrom Report