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A Trend In The Cost Of Thanksgiving Dinner

In 2015 the American Farm Bureau Federation’s informal Thanksgiving dinner cost survey found the price is up again and over $50 for the first time. The survey found average cost of this year’s feast for 10 is $50.11, a 70-cent increase from last year’s average of $49.41, and up $1.07 from 2013.

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 with plenty of leftovers. AFBF’s 138 volunteer shoppers checked prices at grocery stores in 32 states.

Prices have been more stable since 2011 following a huge jump of $12.42 over six years. From 2005 to 2011, the price went from $36.78 to $49.20 for the same meal. Back when the survey started in 1986 a Thanksgiving meal for 10 was $28.74. Ten years later, in 1996, it had only increased $2.59 to $31.66.

The Farm Bureau reports the recent stable average price tracks closely with the government’s Consumer Price Index (CPI) for food eaten at home. For October 2015, the most recent month available, the food at home CPI posted a 0.7 percent increase compared to a year ago.

This year John Anderson, AFBF’s deputy chief economist, says, “There were some production disruptions earlier this year due to the highly pathogenic Avian influenza outbreak in the Midwest. Turkey production is down this year but not dramatically.” He also notes retailers are featuring turkeys aggressively for the holiday, “According to USDA retail price reports, featured prices fell sharply just last week and were actually lower than last year.”

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.