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November 22, 2010




Jay Stone,




MACON, Ga. – While the average cost of a traditional Thanksgiving meal rose by 56 cents, the price of feeding a gathering of 10 is still less than it was in 2008, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation’s annual survey of classic items found on the Thanksgiving Day dinner table.


The average price tag for a holiday meal for 10 with all the trimmings rang up at $43.47, up from $42.91 in 2009 but down by $1.14 from the 2008 average. The rise was in spite of a significantly lower average price for the centerpiece 16-pound turkey, which was down by 99 cents.


“Turkey prices are down some this year despite the fact that, according to United States Agriculture Department estimates, turkey production has been slightly lower in 2010 than in 2009 and supplies of turkey in cold storage are below last year’s level,” said American Farm Bureau Federation Economist John Anderson, who said this indicates retailers are being aggressive in featuring turkeys in special sales and promotions.


“Overall, the change in the price of this year’s Thanksgiving dinner is basically in line with the modest changes that we’ve seen in the overall price level this year. At $4.35 per person, our traditional Thanksgiving feast is still a better deal than most fast-food value meals, plus it’s a wholesome, home-cooked meal.”


The survey involved shoppers from 34 states (including one from Georgia) collecting price data on 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 $17.66 or roughly $1.10 per pound, reflects a decrease of 44 cents compared to the prices from the 2009 survey. A 38-cent rise in the price of a gallon of milk and a 72-cent increase for miscellaneous ingredients (coffee, onions, eggs, sugar, flour, evaporated milk and butter) offset the decrease in the price of turkey. The price for a pound of green peas also declined, by an average of 14 cents, while the cost of 12 ounces of fresh cranberries was the same as in 2009.


Farm Bureau enlisted the help of more than 100 volunteer shoppers to compile the survey, which is intended as an informal gauge of price trends around the nation. The survey has been conducted yearly since 1986, and the menu has remained the same to allow for consistent price comparisons. The volunteer shoppers were asked to look for the best prices on the survey items without using coupons or taking advantage of any promotional deals like getting a free turkey for spending at least $50.


Anderson said despite retail price increases during the past year, American consumers have enjoyed relatively stable food costs over the years, particularly when adjusted for inflation.


Founded in 1937, Georgia Farm Bureau is the state’s largest general farm organization. Its volunteer members actively participate in local, district and state activities that promote agriculture awareness to their non-farming neighbors. GFB also has 20 commodity advisory committees that give the organization input on issues pertinent to the major commodities grown in Georgia..