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Farm Bureau Survey: Thanksgiving Dinner Cost Down for Third Straight Year

The American Farm Bureau Federation’s 33nd annual price survey of classic items found on the Thanksgiving Day dinner table indicates the average cost of this year’s feast for 10 is $48.90, or less than $5.00 per person. Locally, that same meal can be purchased in Vermilion County for just $42.21, a 5.1% drop from 2017. That local meal costs 13.7% less than the national average.


“Since 2015, the average cost of Thanksgiving dinner has declined steadily and is now at the lowest level since 2010,” said AFBF Chief Economist Dr. John Newton.

The shopping list for Farm Bureau’s informal survey includes turkey, bread 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 plenty for leftovers.

The featured food on most Thanksgiving tables – the turkey – cost $21.71 for the 16-pound bird, down 3% nationally compared to last year. “Thanks to an ample supply, turkey remains affordable for consumers, which helps keep the overall cost of the dinner reasonably priced as well,” Newton said.

Other foods showing the largest decreases this year included a gallon of milk, down 2%; three pounds of sweet potatoes and a 1-pound bag of green peas, each down 4%.

Items that showed a modest price increase were the fresh cranberries, up 9%; pumpkin pie mix, up 4%; and cubed stuffing, up 2%.

New this year, to capture the diversity in Thanksgiving meals across the U.S., American Farm Bureau also checked prices on a 4-pound bone-in ham, 5 pounds of Russet potatoes and 1-pound of frozen green beans.

“Adding these foods to the classic Thanksgiving menu increased the overall cost slightly, to $61.72 or about $6 per person,” said Newton.

A total of 166 volunteer shoppers checked prices at grocery stores in 37 states for this year’s survey. Farm Bureau volunteer shoppers are asked to look for the best possible prices, without taking advantage of special promotional coupons or purchase deals, such as spending $50 and receiving a free turkey. After adjusting for inflation, the cost of a Thanksgiving dinner fell to $19.37, the most affordable in more than a decade.

Farm Bureau also surveyed the price of a traditional Thanksgiving meal available from popular food delivery services. This revealed that the convenience of food delivery does have a larger price tag. A 16-pound turkey was nearly 50 percent more expensive at nearly $2 per pound when purchased from a food delivery service. Nearly every individual item was more expensive compared to the Farm Bureau average and the total cost of the dinner was about 60 percent higher at about $8 per person.

The AFBF Thanksgiving dinner 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. Farm Bureau’s survey menu has remained unchanged since 1986 to allow for consistent price comparisons.

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