Turkey dinner seen as a bargain

by The City Wire staff ([email protected]) 79 views 

A traditional Thanksgiving dinner will cost roughly $4.50 per person this year, according to Arkansas Farm Bureau’s annual survey.

The cost has remained stable with a year ago despite widespread drought that has wreaked havoc on much of the agricultural sector. That said, the survey price has risen 10.79% since the recession ended in 2009.

This year it will take an average of $45.12 to feed an Arkansas family of 10, up one cent from a year ago. This is seen as a bargain by Arkansas Farm Bureau President Randy Veach.

Veach says the fact Arkansans may still prepare and enjoy the meal for less than $5 per person is remarkable. The nationwide survey came in at $49.48 for a family of 10, or $4.95 a person.

“The stability of turkey and milk prices compared to a year ago, are the driving forces behind keeping the cost of this year’s meal virtually unchanged,” said Travis Justice, Arkansas Farm Bureau chief economist.

“Despite the production challenges created by the drought, turkey supplies are plentiful (up about 5% from a year ago), and the dairy industry, while facing consolidation in farm numbers, continues to make gains in per farm and per cow productivity,” Justice said.

After rising 21 cents per pound a year ago, the average price of a 16-pound young tom turkey this year increased a dime to $17.85 or $1.12 cents per pound.

Turkey prices are slightly higher nationwide. American Farm Bureau reported an average of $1.39 per pound or $22.23.

Another major driver of the survey is the cost of a gallon of whole milk. During the two-year period of 2010-2011 the average price increased almost a dollar, from $3.19 to $4.10. This year the increase was a modest two cents to $4.12. In contrast, a ½-pint carton of whipping cream is 46 cents higher at $2.21.

Other menu items with annual price increases include sweet potatoes, rolls coffee, sugar, eggs, flour and cranberries. Those items will cost a total of 56 cents more than a year ago.

Average prices for cubed stuffing, pumpkin pie mix, a two-count package of frozen pie shells, frozen green peas, a bunch of celery and a pound of carrots decreased in price this year by a total of $1.12.

Though unscientific, the survey is intended to be a gauge of actual price trends across Arkansas and the nation. The survey period was Oct. 26 – Nov. 5. The shopping list has remained unchanged since 1986 to allow consistent price comparisons.

Individual totals ranged from a low of $40.30 in Batesville, to $51.39 in Waldron. The Bentonville survey came in at $42.22.