Thanksgiving costs lighter, but still on the heavy side

Thanksgiving plate with turkey, mashed potatoes, green beans and cranberry sauce

The classic holiday meal is less than last year but still among the highest in history according to American Farm Bureau survey

WASHINGTON D.C. – Gathering around the table for a Thanksgiving dinner won’t gobble up as much money as last year, but the meal will still be historically heavy on the cost.

The American Farm Bureau Federation recently released its 38th annual survey providing a snapshot of the average cost of the classic holiday feast for 10, which is $61.17 or less than $6.20 per person. That is a 4.5% decrease from last year’s record-high average of $64.05, but a Thanksgiving meal is still 25% higher than it was in 2019, which highlights the impact high supply costs and inflation have had on food prices since before the pandemic.

“While high food prices are a concern for every family, America still has one of the most affordable food supplies in the world,” AFBF President Zippy Duvall said. “We’ve accomplished that, in part, due to strong farm bill programs. Although our focus is sharing time with family and friends this Thanksgiving, our thoughts also turn to encouraging Congress to double down on a commitment to passing a new farm bill with a modernized safety net to support those who raise the crops and livestock that supply Thanksgiving dinner and every dinner.”

The shopping list for Farm Bureau’s informal survey includes turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes, rolls with butter, peas, cranberries, a veggie tray, and pumpkin pie with whipped cream, all in quantities sufficient to serve a family of 10 with plenty of leftovers. The centerpiece on most Thanksgiving tables – the turkey – helped bring down the overall cost of dinner. The average price for a 16-pound turkey is $27.35. That is $1.71 per pound, down 5.6% from last year.

“Turkey prices have fallen thanks to a sharp reduction in cases of avian influenza, which have allowed production to increase in time for the holiday,” says a Farm Bureau spokesperson. Last year, supply concerns and record turkey and egg prices during the 2022 holiday season caused problems for consumers and farmers. Egg prices are way down this year as well.

Almost everything on the Thanksgiving menu is lower – 14-ounces of cubed stuffing mix is $3.77 (down 2.8%), a 12-ounce bag of cranberries is $2.10 (down 18%), two frozen pie crusts are $3.50 (down 4.9%) and a half pint of whipping cream is $1.73 (down 22.8%).

“While shoppers will see a slight improvement in the cost of a Thanksgiving dinner, high inflation continues to hammer families across the country, including the nation’s farmers,” Duvall said. “Growing the food families rely on is a constant challenge for farmers because of high fuel, seed, fertilizer and transportation costs, just to name a few.”

Only a few things have gone up in the last year – a 30-ounce can of pumpkin pie mix is $4.44 (up 3.7%) and carrots and celery were 90 cents for a veggie tray (up 2.3%).

Sweet potatoes were stagnant at $3.97, up just a fraction of a percent from last year. In recognition of changes in Thanksgiving dinner traditions, the Farm Bureau price survey also includes boneless ham, Russet potatoes and frozen green beans, in an expanded menu. Adding these foods to the classic Thanksgiving menu increased the overall cost by $23.58, to $84.75.

This year’s national average cost was calculated using 245 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.

The AFBF Thanksgiving dinner survey was first conducted in 1986. The informal survey provides a record of comparative holiday meal costs over the years. Farm Bureau’s classic survey menu has remained unchanged since 1986 to allow for consistent price comparisons.

Farm Bureau “volunteer shoppers” checked prices Nov. 1-6, before most grocery store chains began featuring whole frozen turkeys at sharply lower prices. According to USDA Agricultural Marketing Service data, the average per-pound feature price for whole frozen turkeys declined further during the second week of November. Consumers who have not yet purchased a turkey may find additional savings in the days leading up to Thanksgiving.

Start typing and press Enter to search