Thanksgiving dinner cost declines for 2009

WASHINGTON — Menu items for a classic Thanksgiving dinner including turkey, stuffing, cranberries, pumpkin pie and all the basic trimmings dropped 4 percent in price this year, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation.

American Farm Bureau Federation’s 24th annual informal price survey of classic items found on the Thanksgiving Day dinner table indicates the average cost of this year’s feast for 10 is $42.91, a $1.70 price decrease from last year’s average of $44.61.

Shopping list

The American Farm Bureau Federation 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 a family of 10.

The cost of a 16 pound turkey, at $18.65 or roughly $1.16 per pound, reflects a decrease of 3 cents per pound, or a total of 44 cents per turkey compared to 2008.

Milk, at $2.86 per gallon, dropped 92 cents and was the largest contributor to the overall decrease in the cost of the 2009 Thanksgiving dinner.

Other items showing a price decrease this year were a pint of whipping cream, $1.55; a 12 ounce package of brown-n-serve rolls, $2.08; a 1 pound relish tray of carrots and celery, 72 cents and a 12 ounce package of fresh cranberries, $2.41.

A combined group of miscellaneous items, including coffee and ingredients necessary to prepare the meal (onions, eggs, sugar, flour, evaporated milk and butter) also dropped in price to $2.50.

Increased slightly

Items that increased slightly (less than 5 percent) in price this year were a 14 ounce package of cubed bread stuffing, $2.65; two 9-inch pie shells, $2.34 and a 30 ounce can of pumpkin pie mix, $2.45.

Two items, green peas and sweet potatoes, stayed the same in price at $1.58 for 1 pound and $3.12 for 3 pounds, respectively.

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.

The 4 percent decrease in the national average cost reported this year by Farm Bureau for a classic Thanksgiving dinner tracks closely with the organization’s 2009 quarterly marketbasket food surveys (available at http://newsroom.fb.org) and the federal government’s Consumer Price Index (available at http://data.bls.gov/).

Best possible prices

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 spending $50 and receiving 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 American Farm Bureau Federation survey was first conducted in 1986. While Farm Bureau does not make any statistical claims about the data, it is an informal gauge of price trends around the nation.

More than 200 volunteer shoppers from 35 states participated in this year’s survey.

Menu unchanged

Farm Bureau’s survey menu has remained unchanged since 1986 to allow for consistent price comparisons.

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