The cost for a traditional Thanksgiving dinner including turkey, stuffing, pumpkin pie and all the usual trimmings increased slightly this year, according to an informal survey of grocery store prices conducted by Indiana Farm Bureau.
The survey, which has been conducted annually in Indiana since 1993, indicated that the cost for this year's feast for 10 is $50.99 compared to $49.38 in 2011. Indiana's survey data is factored into a national market basket survey coordinated by the American Farm Bureau Federation, and the national survey also recorded an increase, rising from $49.20 in 2011 to $49.48 in 2012.
"The cost of this year's meal is around $5 per person, so it's still a bargain," said IFB second Vice President Isabella Chism, who farms with her husband in Howard County. "It's been a very difficult year for Indiana farmers, but our farm families feel honored and blessed to be able to produce the bounty that is celebrated at Thanksgiving."
The survey's 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 coffee and milk, all in quantities sufficient to serve a family of 10. There is also plenty for leftovers.
Almost all of the increase (in both the Indiana and AFBF surveys) can be attributed to an increase in the cost for turkey. The Indiana survey indicated that turkey increased by 20 cents per pound for a total of $25.56 for a 16-pound bird.
"A slight increase in demand for turkey is responsible for the moderate price increase our shoppers reported for the bird," said John Anderson, AFBF's deputy chief economist.
Savvy shoppers may pay even less for frozen tom turkey compared to AFBF's 155 volunteer shoppers, according to Anderson.
"Turkeys may still be featured in special sales and promotions close to Thanksgiving," he explained.
The only other items that increased on the Indiana survey were a dozen brown-and-serve rolls, which increased by 16 cents to $2.02 for a 12-ounce package, and a combined group of miscellaneous items, including coffee and ingredients necessary to prepare the meal (onions, eggs, sugar, flour, evaporated milk and butter), which rose by eight cents to $3.18.
Everything else on the shopping list either stayed the same or decreased in price. The largest decrease was for a gallon of whole milk, which dropped by 14 cents to $3.01 per gallon. Whipping cream also dropped in price by seven cents to $1.80 for a half pint.
Other items that decreased were a 12-ounce package of fresh cranberries, down nine cents to $2.38; three pounds of sweet potatoes, down nine cents (three cents/pound) to $2.85; a 30-ounce can of pumpkin pie filling, down ix cents to $3.05; a 14-ounce package of stuffing, down four cents to $2.46; and a 16-ounce package of frozen peas, down two cents to $1.44.
Meanwhile, the price for a package of two frozen pie crusts remained unchanged at $2.39, as did a relish tray consisting of one pound of mixed carrots and celery at 85 cents.
Anderson noted that despite retail price increases during the last year or so, American consumers have enjoyed relatively stable food costs over the years, particularly when adjusted for inflation.
The slight percentage increase in the national average cost reported this year by Farm Bureau for a classic Thanksgiving dinner tracks closely with the organization's 2012 quarterly market basket surveys and the government's Consumer Price Index for food (available online at http://data.bls.gov/).
Neither the national nor the Indiana surveys are scientific. They are instead snapshots of prices on basic items during a given period. The survey is conducted by volunteers who pick a grocery store in their area and collect prices for specific items. They are asked to look for the best possible prices but not to use promotional coupons or special deals such as "Spend $50 and receive a free turkey." Twenty volunteers participated in the Indiana survey, while 155 volunteer shoppers in 35 states participated in the national survey.