Farm Bureau survey shows a decline in Thanksgiving dinner cost

by Kim Souza ([email protected]) 212 views 

Consumers enjoying a traditional Thanksgiving Day dinner this year will spend about 4% less on food than in 2019, according to the annual survey conducted by the American Farm Bureau.

Gatherings are likely to be fewer and farther between, with social distancing and perhaps even remote family get-togethers, but a turkey dinner is one tradition that may continue for many, AFB noted in the release.

Farm Bureau’s 35th annual survey indicates the average cost of this year’s Thanksgiving feast for 10 remains affordable at $46.90 or less than $5 per person. This is a $2.01 decrease from last year’s average of $48.91.

“The average cost of this year’s Thanksgiving dinner is the lowest since 2010,” said AFBF Chief Economist Dr. John Newton. “Pricing whole turkeys as ‘loss leaders’ to entice shoppers and move product is a strategy we’re seeing retailers use that’s increasingly common the closer we get to the holiday.”

The centerpiece on most Thanksgiving tables – the turkey – costs less than last year, at $19.39 for a 16-pound bird, down 7% from last year. The survey results show that retail turkey prices are the lowest since 2010.

Talk Business & Politics surveyed turkey prices around the state. In Bentonville, turkey prices for Cargill’s Honeysuckle White were 78-cents per pound at Walmart, and 68-cents a pound at Aldi. Butterball turkey prices at Aldi were 78-cents per pound and 98-cents per pound at Walmart. In Fort Smith, Jonesboro and Little Rock, the Butterball turkey was 98-cents a pound at Walmart, while the Honeysuckle White brand selling for 78-cents a pound. Harp Foods is giving a free turkey to customers in all its markets who spend $100 on groceries.

The shopping list for Farm Bureau’s informal survey includes turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes, rolls with butter, peas, cranberries, a veggie tray, pumpkin pie with whipped cream, and coffee and milk, all in quantities sufficient to serve a family of 10 with leftovers, the release states.

Farm Bureau said the cost of whipping cream and sweet potatoes were also lower this year, while consumer will pay slightly more for dinner rolls, cubed bread stuffing and pumpkin pie mix. After adjusting for inflation, the cost of this year’s Thanksgiving dinner is $18.01, down slightly from last year.

The Farm Bureau price survey also includes ham, potatoes and frozen green beans and when families add those items to their dinner the cost for the meal increased by $13.21, totaling $60.11. The basket total price was down 4% from 2019.

“Although it’s difficult to predict if panic purchasing will again become a concern due to the pandemic, “Turkeys – and other staples of the traditional Thanksgiving meal – are currently in ample supply at grocery stores in most areas of the country,” Newton said.

Walmart executives said this week in-stocks were better despite consumers starting to restock pantries as COVID-19 cases rise in many communities. Walmart, Harps and other grocery retailers around the state will be closed on Thanksgiving Day this year and they remind families not to wait until the last minute to do their shopping.

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