Cracking Open the “Turkey” Bank

The retail cost of a traditional Thanksgiving dinner increased about 13% this year, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF).

AFBF’s 26th annual informal price survey of items found in a traditional Thanksgiving Day dinner for ten people added to $49.20 this year, a $5.73 price increase from last year’s average of $43.47.

“The cost of this year’s meal remains a bargain, at just under $5 per person,” said AFBF President Bob Stallman, a rice and cattle producer from Texas. “The quality and variety of food produced for our dinner tables on America’s diverse farms and ranches set us apart from our contemporaries around the world.”

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, plus leftovers.

The big ticket item – a 16-pound turkey – cost $21.57 this year. That is roughly $1.35 per pound, an increase of about 25 cents per pound compared to 2010.  The turkey has the largest price increase from 2010.

“Turkey prices are higher this year primarily due to strong consumer demand both here in the U.S. and globally,” said John Anderson, an AFBF senior economist.

The AFBF survey was first conducted in 1986, when the average cost for the meal was $28.74. A total of 141 volunteer shoppers from 35 states participated in this year’s survey. Farm Bureau’s survey menu has remained unchanged since 1986 to allow for consistent price comparisons.