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Slightly Higher Thanksgiving Dinner Cost This Year

WASHINGTON, D.C., November 14, 2006 – Despite a slight increase in price, a traditional Thanksgiving dinner with turkey, stuffing, cranberries, pumpkin pie and all the trimmings remains affordable, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation.

Listen to ecomonist Terry Francl's comments in Newsline.

Click here for a PDF of our Thanksgiving Dinner Cost graphic.

AFBF’s 21st annual informal survey of the prices of basic items found on the Thanksgiving Day dinner table pegs the average cost of this year’s feast for 10 at $38.10, a $1.32 price increase from last year’s average of $36.78.

“Americans enjoy the most abundant and affordable food supply in the world, produced with pride by our hardworking farmers and ranchers,” said AFBF President Bob Stallman. “As we join with family and friends to celebrate this Thanksgiving, it is appropriate to savor this bounty, which is truly one of our nation’s greatest blessings.”

The AFBF survey shopping list includes turkey, 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 $15.70 or roughly 98 cents per pound, reflects an increase of 4 cents per pound, or a total of 59 cents per turkey compared to 2005. This is the largest contributor to the overall increase in the cost of the 2006 Thanksgiving dinner.

“The higher retail turkey price reflects both a tighter supply and demand situation at the producer level as well as the impact of higher energy costs for processing and transportation,” said AFBF Senior Economist Terry Francl. “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 spend $50 and receive a free turkey. The average price of turkey is less than one dollar per pound. That’s an amazing value for American consumers,” said Francl.

Yearly Averages

1986–$28.74

1987–$24.51

1988–$26.61

1989–$24.70

1990–$28.85

1991–$25.95

1992–$26.39

1993–$27.49

1994–$28.40

1995–$29.64

1996–$31.66

1997–$31.75

1998–$33.09

1999–$33.83

2000–$32.37

2001–$35.04

2002–$34.56

2003–$36.28

2004–$35.68

2005–$36.78

2006–$38.10

Other items showing a slight price increase this year included: a 12-oz. package of fresh cranberries, $2.12; three pounds of sweet potatoes, $2.91; a 14-oz. package of cubed stuffing, $2.52; two 9-inch pie shells, $1.98; a 12-oz. package of brown-n-serve rolls, $1.78; a 16-oz. package of frozen green peas, $1.46; and a 30-oz. can of pumpkin pie mix, $1.89. The price of a combined pound of celery and carrots, used for a relish tray, increased to 71 cents.

Items that decreased slightly in price this year were:  one gallon of milk, $2.93 and a half-print of whipping cream, $1.47.  A combined group of miscellaneous items, including coffee and ingredients necessary to prepare the meal (onions, eggs, sugar, flour, evaporated milk and butter), dropped in price by 41 cents to $2.63.

Francl said American consumers have enjoyed stable food costs over the years.

“The inflation-adjusted cost of a Thanksgiving dinner has remained around $20 for the past 16 years. Despite some significant economic obstacles, including rising fuel costs, American farmers continue to provide wholesome, affordable food for American consumers,” he said.

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 $40 to $50.

The AFBF survey was first conducted in 1986 when the average cost of a Thanksgiving meal for a family of 10 was $28.74. This year’s average cost of $38.10 is equivalent to $18.99 in 1986 inflation-adjusted dollars, which means the real cost of the Thanksgiving dinner has declined 34 percent in the last 20 years, according to Francl. While Farm Bureau does not make any statistical claims about the data, it is a gauge of price trends around the nation. A total of 96 volunteer shoppers from 32 states participated in this year’s survey. Farm Bureau’s survey menu has remained unchanged since 1986 to allow for consistent price comparisons.

Item

2005 Price

2006 Price

Difference

16-pound Turkey

15.11

15.70

+.59

Cube Stuffing, 14 oz.

2.27

2.52

+.25

Pumpkin Pie Mix, 30-oz.

1.86

1.89

+.03

Pie Shells (2)

1.89

1.98

+.09

Sweet Potatoes, 3 lbs.

2.56

2.91

+.35

Rolls, 12

1.64

1.78

+.14

Green Peas, 1 lb.

1.38

1.46

+.08

1-pound Relish Tray of Carrots and Celery

.59

.71

+.12

Milk, 1 gallon whole

3.09

2.93

-.16

Fresh Cranberries, 12 oz.

1.84

2.12

+.28

Cream, ½ pint

1.51

1.47

-.04

Misc. Ingredients

3.04

2.63

-.41

TOTAL

36.78

38.10

+1.32

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Contacts: Cyndie Sirekis
(202) 406-3649
cyndies@fb.org
Tracy Taylor Grondine
(202) 406-3642
tracyg@fb.org