The retail cost for the classic American Thanksgiving feast increased about 13 percent this year, according the American Farm Bureau Federation. But at about $5 a person, it’s still quite a bargain.
The average cost this year for a dinner for 10 is $49.20, up from $43.47 last year. This is the biggest price jump since 2007, when the Thanksgiving dinner price tag rose $4.16 over 2006.
Wholesale food prices are on pace to post their strongest annual increase in more than three decades, according to National Restaurant Association Chief Economist Bruce Grindy. “On a year-to-date basis through September, average wholesale food prices increased 7.8 percent,” he posted on the association’s website. “If this trend continues, it would represent the strongest gain since 1980, when prices rose 8.1 percent...If the current trend holds, 2011 will mark the third time in the last five years that average wholesale food prices rose at least 7.6 percent. In addition, the overall five-year increase will be in excess of 26 percent.”
That’s not very appetizing news. So let’s get back to the table. Here’s what’s on the AFBF shopping list; 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. Presumably not included are chips, dip, beer, and other goodies to accompany that other Thanksgiving ritual: televised football.
Turkeys can’t fly, but their cost can. A 16-pound turkey weights in this year at $21.57, an increase, the bureau estimates, of about 25 cents, or a total of $3.91 for the whole bird, compared to 2010.
Other items that showed a price increase from last year were: a gallon of whole milk ($3.66, up 42 cents a gallon), a 30-ounce can of pumpkin pie mix ($3.03, up 41 cents), two nine-inch pie shells ($2.52, up 6 cents), a half-pint of whipping cream ($1.96, up 26 cents)--getting hungry yet?—one pound of green oeas ($1.68, up 24 cents), a 14-ounce package of cubed bread stuffing ($2.88, up 24 cents), a dozen dinner rolls ($2.30, up 18 cents), three pounds of sweet potatoes ($3.26, up 7 cents), and fresh cranberries ($2.48, up 7 cents).
Not everything will cost more this year. Veggies declined by a penny to 76 cents, while other meal ingredients such as onions, eggs, sugar, flour, and butter dropped in price to $3.10.
"Although we'll pay a bit more this year, on a per-person basis, our traditional Thanksgiving feast remains a better value than most fast-food value meals," said, John Anderson, an SFBF senior economist, in a statement. "Plus it's a wholesome, home-cooked meal."
Donald Liebenson writes news and features for Millionaire Corner. He has been published in the Chicago Tribune, The Chicago Sun-Times, The Los Angeles Times, Fiscal Times, Entertainment Weekly, Huffington Post, and other outlets. He has also served as a marketing writer for Chicago-based Questar Entertainment and distributor Baker & Taylor.
A graduate of the University of Southern California, he is married with a college-age son. He also writes extensively about entertainment.