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Survey shows Thanksgiving dinner less expensive in 2017

November 22, 2017

According to a survey conducted by American Farm Bureau Federation, the average cost of classic items found on the Thanksgiving Day dinner table this year – dinner for 10 – is $49.12. That's 75 cents less than last year's cost and the lowest total in five years.

AFBF Director of Market Intelligence Dr. John Newton said, "Even as America's family farmers and ranchers continue to face economic challenges, they remain committed to providing a safe, abundant and affordable food supply for consumers at Thanksgiving and throughout the year."

AFBF's 32nd annual price survey found turkeys averaging $1.40 a pound, or $22.38 for a 16-pound turkey, down 2 cents from 2016. Turkey represents nearly half the total cost of Thanksgiving dinner.

A quick check of one of the largest grocery chains in Delaware found frozen turkeys at 98 cents a pound. A fresh, locally grown turkey could run as much as $3.20 a pound. Consumers continue to see lower retail turkey prices due to continued large inventory in cold storage, which is up almost double digits from last year, Newton said.

The shopping list for the informal survey includes turkey, bread stuffing, sweet potatoes, rolls with butter, peas, cranberries, a veggie tray, pumpkin pie with whipped cream, and coffee and milk, all in quantities sufficient to serve a family of 10 with plenty for leftovers.

Foods showing the largest decreases this year in addition to turkey were a gallon of milk, $2.99; a dozen rolls, $2.26; two nine-inch pie shells, $2.45; a 3-pound bag of sweet potatoes, $3.52; and a 1-pound bag of green peas, $1.53.

"Milk production has increased, resulting in continued low retail prices. In addition, grocers often use milk as a loss leader to entice consumers to shop at their stores," said Newton.

Items that increased modestly in price were: a half-pint of whipping cream, $2.08; a 14-ounce package of cubed bread stuffing, $2.81; a 30-ounce can of pumpkin pie mix, $3.21; a 12-ounce bag of fresh cranberries, $2.43; and a 1-pound veggie tray, $.74.

"Whole whipping cream is up about 4 percent in price, due to increased consumer demand for full-fat dairy products," Newton said.

After adjusting for inflation, the cost of a Thanksgiving dinner is $20.54, the lowest level since 2013.

A total of 141 volunteer shoppers checked prices at grocery stores in 39 states for this year's survey. Farm Bureau volunteer shoppers are asked to look for the best possible prices, without taking advantage of special promotional coupons or purchase deals.

First conducted in 1986, AFBF's survey is an informal gauge of price trends around the nation. The menu has remained unchanged since 1986 to allow for consistent price comparisons.

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