Turkey will cost more at most Thanksgiving Day dinner tables

WASHINGTON — The retail cost of menu items for a classic Thanksgiving dinner including turkey, stuffing, cranberries, pumpkin pie and all the basic trimmings increased less than 1 percent this year.

The American Farm Bureau Federation has been conducting an informal price survey of classic items found on the Thanksgiving Day dinner table since 1986. This year, the farm group found the average cost of this year’s feast for 10 is $49.48, a 28-cent price increase from last year’s average of $49.20.

But that means the American tradition costs just under $5 per person, still a bargain, said AFBF President Bob Stallman, a rice and cattle producer from Texas.

The AFBF 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. There is also plenty for leftovers.

The big ticket item — a 16-pound turkey — came in at $22.23 this year. That was roughly $1.39 per pound, an increase of about 4 cents per pound, or a total of 66 cents per whole turkey, compared to 2011.

The whole bird was the biggest contributor to the final total, showing the largest price increase compared to last year.

Savvy shoppers may pay even less for frozen tom turkey compared to AFBF’s 155 volunteer shoppers who checked prices at grocery stores in 35 states. Turkeys may still be featured in special sales and promotions close to Thanksgiving, so anyone with the patience to wait until the last minute to buy a turkey for Thanksgiving could be rewarded with a bargain.

In addition to the turkey, a combined group of miscellaneous items, including coffee and ingredients necessary to prepare the meal (onions, eggs, sugar, flour, evaporated milk and butter) increased in price, to $3.18.

A dozen brown-n-serve rolls also increased slightly this year, up 3 cents to $2.33. Items that showed a price decrease from last year were: a half pint of whipping cream, $1.83, down 13 cents; a 14-ounce package of cubed bread stuffing, $2.77, down 11 cents; three pounds of sweet potatoes, $3.15, down 11 cents; one gallon of whole milk, $3.59, down 7 cents; fresh cranberries, $2.45, down 3 cents; one pound of green peas, $1.66, down 2 cents; a 30-ounce can of pumpkin pie mix and two nine-inch pie shells, $5.53, down 2 cents. A one-pound relish tray of carrots and celery remained the same at 76 cents.

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.

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