A classic Thanksgiving dinner including turkey, stuffing, cranberries, pumpkin pie and all the basic trimmings will cost about 1.3 percent more this year than last, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation.

AFBF’s 25th annual informal price survey of classic items found on the Thanksgiving Day dinner table shows the average cost to feed 10 people is $43.47, a 56-cent price increase from 2009’s average of $42.91. But, this year’s meal is $1.14 cheaper than what shoppers paid two years ago, when it totaled $44.61.

“While this year’s meal remains a bargain, at less than $4.35 per person, America’s farmers and ranchers are perhaps most proud of the quality and variety of the food they produce for America’s dinner table,” notes Bob Stallman, AFBF President, who farms in Texas. “Our farm and ranch families are honored knowing that Americans will celebrate Thanksgiving by gathering with their families around the traditional feast. It is fitting that the food we produce from our land is a focal point of our nation’s thankful celebration of its collective bounty.”

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 leftovers.

The feature item – a 16-pound turkey – is actually cheaper this year, at $17.66. At $1.10 per pound, it actually declined 6 cents per pound compared to 2009, scoring the largest price decline.   “Turkey prices are down some this year despite the fact that, according to USDA estimates, turkey production has been slightly lower in 2010 than in 2009 and turkey supplies in cold storage are below last year’s level,” notes John Anderson, an AFBF economist.

“This suggests that retailers are being fairly aggressive in featuring turkeys,” he adds. “The change in the price of this year’s Thanksgiving dinner is in line with the modest changes that we’ve seen in the overall price level this year. At $4.35 per person, our traditional Thanksgiving feast is still a better deal than most fast-food value meals, plus it’s a wholesome, home-cooked meal.”

A gallon of whole milk increased in price by 38 cents per gallon, to $3.24. Other items that showed increases from last year were: a 30-ounce can of pumpkin pie mix, $2.62, up 17 cents; two nine-inch pie shells, $2.46, up 12 cents; ½ pint of whipping cream, $1.70, up 15 cents; three pounds of sweet potatoes, $3.19, up 7 cents; a one-pound relish tray of carrots and celery, 77 cents, up 5 cents; a dozen brown-n-serve rolls, $2.12, up 4 cents. But Anderson points out that the price of some items were quite low in 2009.

A combined group of miscellaneous items, including coffee and ingredients necessary to prepare the meal (onions, eggs, sugar, flour, evaporated milk and butter) also increased in price, to $3.22.

Along with the turkey, lower prices occurred for a pound of green peas, $1.44, down 14 cents; and a 14-ounce package of cubed bread stuffing, $2.64, down 1 cent. Fresh cranberry prices remained unchanged, with a 12-ounce package selling for $2.41.

Americans have enjoyed relatively stable food costs over the years, particularly when adjusted for inflation, Anderson notes.

More details on the Thanksgiving dinner survey are available here.   

Source: AFBF