Expect a More Affordable Thanksgiving Meal This Year

American Farm Bureau annual survey finds price of Thanksgiving meal staples slightly down from last year

Published on: Nov 15, 2013

According to the American Farm Bureau, a typical Thanksgiving feast for 10 is likely to cost American consumers $49.04 this year, representing a 44-cent price decrease from last year’s average of $49.48.

2013 marks the 28th year for the survey, which uses volunteer shoppers to scope out prices without using coupons or store specials.

"The cost of this year's meal, at less than $5 per serving, remains an excellent value for consumers," says AFBF President Bob Stallman. "America's farm and ranch families are honored to produce the food from our nation's land for family Thanksgiving celebrations."

The survey 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 beverages of coffee and milk, all in quantities sufficient to serve a family of 10.

American Farm Bureau annual survey finds price of Thanksgiving meal staples slightly down from last year
American Farm Bureau annual survey finds price of Thanksgiving meal staples slightly down from last year

Turkey is king

The big ticket item – a 16-pound turkey – came in at $21.76 this year. That was roughly $1.36 per pound, a decrease of about 3 cents per pound, or a total of 47 cents per whole turkey, compared to 2012, AFBF says.

The whole bird was the biggest contributor to the final total, showing the largest price decrease compared to last year.

"Most Americans will pay about the same as last year at the grocery store for a turkey and all the trimmings," noted AFBF deputy chief economist John Anderson. "Slightly higher turkey production for much of the year coupled with an increase in birds in cold storage may be responsible for the moderate price decrease our shoppers reported."

Some shoppers may pay even less for a frozen tom turkey compared to AFBF's 167 shoppers who checked prices at grocery stores in 34 states, if sales and promotions are utilized.

"Special sales and promotions on turkey and other holiday food items will continue right up to Thanksgiving," Anderson suggests. "If you have the patience to wait until the last minute to buy a turkey you might come home with an exceptional bargain."

Other trimmings post declines, too

In addition to the turkey, other items that declined in price included a dozen brown-n-serve rolls, $2.18; one pound of green peas, $1.54; a 14-ounce package of cubed bread stuffing, $2.67; fresh cranberries, $2.42; a half pint of whipping cream, $1.85; and two nine-inch pie shells, $2.49.