Sticker shock might be part of grocery shopping this holiday season. But shoppers across the country will have options as they fill up their carts, and the cost of a Thanksgiving meal remains affordable.
The American Farm Bureau Federation’s (AFBF) 36th annual survey indicates the average cost of this year’s Thanksgiving feast for 10 has risen to $53.31, or less than $6 a person. This is a $6.41 or 14% increase from last year’s average of $46.90.
Vermilion County shoppers can find the same meal for a cost of $49.22. While this local meal is 11.5% higher than 2020, it is 7.7% lower than the national average.
“As the element of inflation comes into play, consumers can still rest assured that there are bargains to be found in their local grocery stores,” said Illinois Farm Bureau President Richard Guebert Jr. “The food supply is strong, steady and plentiful as Illinois farmers work tirelessly year-round to produce affordable products.”
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 plenty for leftovers. This basic shopping list has stayed the same for the 36 years to allow for comparison.
But In recognition of changes in Thanksgiving dinner traditions, the Farm Bureau price survey also includes ham, potatoes and frozen green beans. Adding these foods to the classic Thanksgiving menu increased the overall cost to $68.72 nationally, and $64.36 locally.
“Several factors contributed to the increase in average cost of this year’s Thanksgiving dinner,” said AFBF Senior Economist Veronica Nigh. “These include dramatic disruptions to the U.S. economy and supply chains over the last 20 months; inflationary pressure throughout the economy; difficulty in predicting demand during the COVID-19 pandemic and high global demand for food, particularly meat.” Further, “The trend of consumers cooking and eating at home more often due to the pandemic led to increased supermarket demand and higher retail food prices in 2020 and 2021, compared to pre-pandemic prices in 2019.”
Survey shoppers visited grocery stores across the country in late October to early November in their hunt for Thanksgiving staples. Notably, survey shopping took place in the weeks prior to when many grocery stores began featuring whole frozen turkeys at sharply lower prices. Your meal will probably cost less by capitalizing on in-store deals and coupons.
“Farmers have produced the food, but the food supply chain has faced its share of challenges within the past couple years, and it is always adjusting to the needs of U.S. consumers,” said Guebert. “It’s important to remember that it takes a lot of hands and a lot of miles to bring the traditional Thanksgiving spread from the farm to the grocery store.”
This year’s national average cost was calculated using 218 surveys completed with pricing data from all 50 states and Puerto Rico. Farm Bureau volunteer shoppers checked prices in person and online using grocery store apps and websites. They looked for the best possible prices without taking advantage of special promotional coupons or purchase deals.