Cost of Thanksgiving Dinner Barely Rises

Cost of Thanksgiving
David Duprey/AP

Shopping for Thanksgiving dinner shouldn’t involve sticker shock this year. The annual American Farm Bureau Federation’s survey of costs to serve a traditional Thanksgiving dinner for 10 people remained stable compared to last year.

The average cost, based on a survey by 179 volunteers in 35 states, found the average price of the feast this year is $49.41 — less than $5 a person. Last year, the average for the entire meal was just 37 cents less.

Shoppers who participated in the survey didn’t use coupons or take advantage of any special deals that were being offered, such as getting free turkeys for certain amount of other spending. That suggests that savvy shoppers can do even better, although those who upgrade their meal choices and are less price conscious can certainly run up the bill.

Turkey production has been somewhat lower this year … but consumers should find an adequate supply of birds at their local grocery store.

Thanksgiving dinner costs have been stable since 2011. Prices have risen more than 38 percent in the past decade, though, and 100 percent over the past 25 years. This is the 29th year the survey has been conducted.

One of the reasons for the stability is the costliest item at the meal, a 16-pound turkey, has remained about the same price as last year — within a penny a pound.

“Turkey production has been somewhat lower this year and wholesale prices are a little higher, but consumers should find an adequate supply of birds at their local grocery store,” said the Farm Bureau Federation’s Deputy Chief Economist John Anderson.

In addition, the Farm Bureau noted that turkeys are sometimes used as “loss leaders.” That means the prices on that item will be pushed very low in order to get shoppers into the store to make other purchases.Here’s what the Farm Bureau included in its survey: turkey, bread stuffing, sweet potatoes, rolls with butter, peas, cranberries, a relish tray of carrots and celery, pumpkin pie with whipped cream, along with coffee and milk. The shopping list accounted for feeding 10 people and leaving enough for leftovers.

The biggest prices jumps the survey found were: sweet potatoes, dairy products and pumpkin pie mix. Items that dropped in price: a 14-ounce package of cubed bread stuffing, fresh cranberries, pie shells, brown-and-serve rolls.

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