Cost Of Thanksgiving Dinner Up Slightly

The cost of a classic Thanksgiving dinner including turkey, stuffing, cranberries, pumpkin pie and the basic trimmings increased by $1.86 this year, according to an informal statewide survey of grocery store prices coordinated by Indiana Farm Bureau.
The survey, which has been conducted annually in Indiana since 1993, indicated that the cost for this year’s feast for 10 is $45.79, up from $43.93 in 2009. It represents a decrease from 2007, when the market basket recorded an all-time high of $47.63, noted IFB 2nd Vice President Isabella Chism.
Indiana’s data is factored into a national survey conducted by the American Farm Bureau Federation, and the national survey also showed a smaller increase: 56 cents for a total of $43.47.
“Thanksgiving is a time for us all to count our blessings,” Chism said. “As a consumer as well as a farmer, I count among my blessings the safe and affordable food we produce in the United States—the farmers who make it possible.”
Neither the national nor Indiana surveys is scientific. They are instead snapshots of prices on basic items during a given time period.
In Indiana, 28 volunteer shoppers picked a grocery store in their area and collected prices from actual items on the official list. They were asked to look for the best possible prices but to not use promotional coupons or purchase deals such as “Spend $50 and receive a free turkey.” Nationally, more than 112 volunteer shoppers from 34 states participated.
The shopping list for the survey includes a 16-pound turkey, bread stuffing, sweet potatoes, rolls with butter, peas, cranberries, a relish tray of carrots and celery, pumpkin pie with whipped cream, and coffee and milk, all in quantities sufficient to serve a family of 10 with plenty for leftovers.
“Overall, the change in the price of this year’s Thanksgiving dinner is basically in line with the modest changes that we’ve seen in the overall price level this year,” said AFBF economist John Anderson. “At $4.35 per person ($4.58 on the Indiana survey), our traditional Thanksgiving feast is still a better deal than most fast-food value meals, plus it’s a wholesome, home-cooked meal.”
The big ticket item—a 16-pound turkey—increased by just 2 cents/pound for a total of $20.48. Other increases were recorded for stuffing, up 7 cents to $2.48 for a 14-ounce bag; a 30-ounce can of pumpkin pie filling mix, up by 39 cents to $2.72; a 2-pack of pie shells, up 17 cents to $2.45; a dozen rolls, up 32 cents to $2.12; a 1-pound relish tray of carrots and celery, up 10 cents to $0.88; a gallon of whole milk, up 18 cents to $2.83; and a half-pint of whipping cream, up 5 cents to $1.82. A group of miscellaneous items, including coffee and ingredients necessary to prepare the meal (onions, eggs, sugar, flour, evaporated milk and butter) also increased in price by 72 cents to $3.22.
“Some of the Thanksgiving dinner items have rebounded from quite low price levels in 2009,” Anderson said. “For example, last year’s milk price was at its lowest level since 2001. Dairy product prices have climbed some in 2010, largely reflecting better consumer demand as the economy has gradually improved this year.”
A few items decreased in price: sweet potatoes, down by 15 cents to $2.97 for 3 pounds; a 16-ounce package of peas, down 12 cents to $1.51; and a 12-ounce package of fresh cranberries, down 18 cents to $2.32.
Anderson said despite retail price increases during the last year or so, American consumers have enjoyed relatively stable food costs over the years, particularly when adjusted for inflation.