Price of Thanksgiving dinner falls to the lowest since 2013

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Thanksgiving dinner is set to be the cheapest its been in four years. Buzz60’s Elizabeth Keatinge (@elizkeatinge) has the details.
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Diners can give thanks that the price of this year’s Thanksgiving Day meal has gone down.

The average cost of this year’s feast for 10 is $49.12, a 75-cent decrease compared with last year’s average of $49.87, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation’s 32nd annual price survey. 

The turkey centerpiece decreased by 2 cents per pound. That means a 16-pound turkey that feeds 10 people with plenty of leftovers will set you back $22.38 — a 36-cent-per-pound savings compared with last year.

In a statement, John Newton, the American Farm Bureau Federation’s director of market intelligence, said the lower retail turkey prices are a result of increased production and inventories of turkeys.

“Even as America’s family farmers and ranchers continue to face economic challenges, they remain committed to providing a safe, abundant and affordable food supply for consumers at Thanksgiving and throughout the year,” Newton said.

The Farm Bureau’s informal survey tracks a shopping list of 12 Thanksgiving Day stables, including stuffing, sweet potatoes, rolls, green peas, cranberries, a veggie tray, pumpkin pie mix and pie shells, whipped cream, milk and miscellaneous items.

In general, the price of the whole meal has steadily increased since 1986, the first year of the survey, when the price of a 10-person Thanksgiving dinner was $28.74. The price hit a high in 2015 at $50.11, but has been trending downward for the last two years. This year’s estimated costs are a 1.5% decrease, the lowest prices have been since 2013.

The survey is calculated by sending 141 volunteer shoppers to supermarkets in 39 states to compare prices. Without using coupons or special promotions, shoppers are asked to find the best deals for a Thanksgiving Day dinner for 10.

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The U.S. Department of Labor’s Consumer Price Index measures prices for food eaten at home. This year’s data shows a 0.5% increase in food costs compared with the Farm Bureau’s 1.5% decrease. The discrepancy is likely a result of the Farm Bureau’s emphasis on a select group of holiday fare. 

“We’re really zeroed in on a small number of items we’re tracking,” Cyndie Shearing, director of internal communications for the Farm Bureau told USA TODAY. “The Consumer Prices Index tracks all food eaten at home. Our survey is a small decline for Thanksgiving prices, but it’s still a decline.”

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Aside from the turkeys, shoppers can expect savings on milk, rolls and pie shells. A one-gallon jug of milk is 18 cents less expensive, at $2.99, compared with $3.17 in 2016, a package of 12 rolls costs 20 cents less at $2.26, compared with $2.46 in 2016, and two pie shells are 14 cents cheaper at $2.45, compared with $2.59.

Meanwhile, costs grew on items such as stuffing, pumpkin pie mix and whipping cream. A 14-ounce package of breaded stuffing fetches $2.81, compared with $2.67 in 2016 — a 14-cent increase. Desserts have also gotten pricey. Both whipping cream and pumpkin pie mix increased by 8 cents from last year. A half pint of whipping cream is $2.08, compared with $2 in 2016, while a 30-ounce can of pumpkin pie mix is $3.21, compared with $3.13 in 2016.

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