While the overall price tag of the traditional Thanksgiving dinner remains steady, with only a one-percent increase from last year's total meal cost; prices are beginning to creep upward for poultry and meat. As the price of grain for feed continues to inch upward after a drought-stricken harvest, livestock farmers are beginning to make adjustments for the increased costs of feeding those animals.
But those food price hikes shouldn't affect this year's annual fall feast. According to the recent American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) Thanksgiving Dinner Price Survey, a family of 10 can still enjoy the typical Thanksgiving meal that features a 16-pound turkey, bread stuffing, cranberries, pumpkin pie and all the trimmings for $49.48.
"The Thanksgiving feast remains a real bargain for American families. The bounty of our flocks and fields can still be put on the table for less than $5 per person," said Dave Miller, director of research and commodity services for the Iowa Farm Bureau. "Even in the face of weather challenges that cut production of corn and soybeans on many Iowa farms by 30 percent or more, the Thanksgiving meal this year has risen in cost by less than one percent."
The price of turkey accounted for most of the increase in the cost of the dinner. The price for a 16-pound turkey crept up by 66 cents to $22.23, compared to $21.57 last year. The increase is a result of higher consumer demand for turkey, lowered turkey production and higher feed prices.
"The modest increase in the price of this year's Thanksgiving turkey demonstrates the resilience of American turkey producers in the face of drought and higher feed costs," said Miller. "During each of the first 8 months of 2012, U.S. turkey producers increased production and prices were slightly lower than a year ago, but higher prices for feed due to the record-setting drought of 2012 has led them to curtail production by about 4 percent during October, resulting in the slight increase in price that may be seen as Thanksgiving approaches this year. But we are on the cusp of change, seeing higher prices for meat."
This year, there were small increases for the costs of dinner rolls and items used to make the meals. The survey shopping list includes turkey, bread stuffing, sweet potatoes, rolls with butter, peas, cranberries, a relish tray of celery and carrots, pumpkin pie with whipped topping and beverages of coffee and milk, in quantities efficient to serve 10 people.
More than 150 volunteer shoppers from 35 states, representing every region in the nation, participated in the annual AFBF Thanksgiving price shopping survey. The cost of the dinner has steadily climbed in recent years: 2010: $43.47, 2011: $49.20 and 2012: $49.48.