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Cost Of Thanksgiving Meal Drops

The cost for a traditional Thanksgiving meal in Indiana dropped sharply from 2012 to 2013, according to an informal survey of grocery costs from Indiana Farm Bureau.

The annual survey indicates that the average cost for this year’s Thanksgiving meal for 10 is $48.12, down nearly $3 from last year’s average of $51.05.

“The cost of this year’s meal, at less than $5 per serving, remains an excellent value for consumers,” said Isabella Chism, Indiana Farm Bureau second vice president. “Indiana’s farm families are honored to produce the food for family Thanksgiving celebrations.”

Done as part of a national survey coordinated by the American Farm Bureau, the Indiana 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 both coffee and milk, all in quantities sufficient to serve a family of 10. There is also plenty for leftovers.

The big-ticket item – a 16-pound turkey – was $23.04 or $1.44 per pound, a decrease of 17 cents per pound and $2.72 overall.

“Slightly higher turkey production for much of the year coupled with an increase in birds in cold storage may be responsible for the moderate price decrease our shoppers reported,” said John Anderson, deputy chief economist at the American Farm Bureau Federation.

Strategic shoppers may pay even less for frozen tom turkey compared to AFBF’s 167 volunteer shoppers, who checked prices at grocery stores in 34 states. Among those were the 18 shoppers who participated in IFB’s survey.

“Special sales and promotions on turkey and other holiday food items will continue right up to Thanksgiving,” Anderson explained. “If you have the patience to wait until the last minute to buy a turkey, you might come home with an exceptional bargain.”

The national survey compiled by AFBF also showed a decrease on both the overall cost of the dinner and the turkey. The cost of the meal averaged $49.04, a 44-cent price decrease from last year’s average of $49.48, while the turkey cost $21.76, or about $1.36 per pound, a decrease of about 3 cents per pound compared to 2012.

In addition to the turkey, other prices that decreased on the Indiana survey were whole milk, which dropped by 26 cents a gallon to $2.76; whipping cream, down 22 cents to $1.62 for a half pint; a dozen rolls, down 16 cents to $1.83; frozen pie shells, which dropped 4 cents to $2.34 for two; and a 1-pound relish tray of carrots and celery, down 3 cents to 83 cents.

Items that showed a moderate price increase from last year included stuffing, up 21 cents to $2.62; 3 pounds of sweet potatoes, up 15 cents to $2.97; 12 ounces fresh cranberries, up 8 cents to $2.44; and pumpkin pie filling mix, up 4 cents to $3.07. In addition, a combined group of miscellaneous items including coffee and ingredients necessary to prepare the meal (onions, eggs, sugar, flour, evaporated milk and butter) increased 2 cents to $3.20.

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 spending $50 and receiving a free turkey. 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 $50 to $75.

The AFBF survey was first conducted in 1986. While Farm Bureau does not make any scientific claims about the data, it is an informal gauge of price trends around the nation. Farm Bureau’s survey menu has remained unchanged since 1986 to allow for consistent price comparisons.

2012 2013
Turkey (16 lb.) $25.76 $23.04
Stuffing (14 oz.) $2.41 $2.62
Pumpkin pie filling mix (30 oz. can) $3.03 $3.07
Pie shell, 9 in. (2 per pkg.) $2.38 $2.34
Sweet potatoes (3 lb.) $2.82 $2.97
Rolls (12 oz./12 per pkg.) $1.99 $1.83
Peas (16 oz. pkg.) $1.40 $1.40
Relish tray (1 lb. mixed carrots, celery) $0.86 $0.83
Whole milk (gal.) $3.02 $2.76
Cranberries (fresh, 12 oz. pkg.) $2.36 $2.44
Whipping cream (∏ pint) $1.84 $1.62
Misc. ingredients (AFBF estimate) $3.18 $3.20
TOTAL $51.05 $48.12

Year Average
1993 $29.50
1994 $26.87
1995 $27.73
1996 $31.09
1997 $28.37
1998 $28.68
1999 $34.26
2000 $31.44
2001 $33.46
2002 $34.48
2003 $34.21
2004 $31.28
2005 $31.53
2006 $34.71
2007 $47.63
2008 $45.57
2009 $43.93
2010 $45.80
2011 $49.38
2012 $51.05
2013 $48.12