Menu items for a classic Thanksgiving dinner including turkey, stuffing, cranberries, pumpkin pie and all the basic trimmings dropped 4 percent in price this year, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation.

AFBF’s 24th annual informal price survey of classic items found on the Thanksgiving Day dinner table indicates the average cost of this year’s feast for 10 is $42.91, a $1.70 price decrease from last year’s average of $44.61.

“As we gather this Thanksgiving for food and fellowship, it’s fitting to take a moment to recognize and give thanks, not only for the abundant food we enjoy as Americans, but for the  hard-working farm and ranch families across our nation who produce it,” said AFBF President Bob Stallman.

The cost of a 16-pound turkey, at $18.65 or roughly $1.16 per pound, reflects a decrease of 3 cents per pound, or a total of 44 cents per turkey compared to 2008. Milk, at $2.86 per gallon, dropped 92 cents and was the largest contributor to the overall decrease in the cost of the 2009 Thanksgiving dinner.

"As of September, the Consumer Price Index reported that grocery store prices are, on average, 2.5 percent lower than they were at this time last year," says Corinne Alexander, Purdue University agricultural economist. "This is wonderful news for grocery store shoppers."

The lower food prices are the result of a recession-driven drop in commodity and crude oil prices, according to Alexander. As wholesale food costs have come down, so, too, have retail prices.

"Cranberry producers are expecting their second largest crop on record. And whenever we talk about record crops or near-record crops, we're talking about downward price pressure," says Alexander. "A lot of us also like to have mashed potatoes for Thanksgiving, and for that we look at white potato prices. Those are down 10 percent this fall from where they were last year, due to both larger supplies and reduced demand."

Other items showing a price decrease this year were whipping cream, brown-n-serve rolls, a relish tray of carrots and celery and  fresh cranberries. A combined group of miscellaneous items, including coffee and ingredients necessary to prepare the meal  including onions, eggs, sugar, flour, evaporated milk and butter, also dropped in price.

When it comes to sweet potatoes, the news is not so good. USDA reports that prices are up 10 percent from a year ago. That's largely due to tighter supplies. Hurricane Gustav hit Louisiana, which is one of our major sweet potato growing states, and so those supplies are down. Fortunately, Gustav did not hit North Carolina, which is another major sweet potato state.

Other items that increased slightly were cubed bread stuffing, 9-inch pie shells and pumpkin pie mix.

Source: AFBF, Purdue University