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MADISON – The cost of a traditional Thanksgiving dinner will be higher than last year according to the Wisconsin Farm Bureau’s annual look at the price of a Thanksgiving dinner for 10. The informal survey found the cost of traditional items like turkey, cube stuffing, cranberries and pumpkin pie was just over 5 percent more than last year.
“The survey’s total price of $50.86, when divided by 10, shows preparing a nutritious, home-cooked Thanksgiving meal costs around $5 per person,” said Amy Eckelberg, Wisconsin Farm Bureau’s Communications Coordinator. “A wholesome family feast is still a better deal than a trip through the drive-thru.”
The American Farm Bureau Federation’s national survey of the same items (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 milk and coffee, all in quantities sufficient to serve a family of 10) averaged $49.41 (almost a 3 percent difference from Wisconsin’s).
“Dairy was a contributor to the increase in this year’s increased survey price. Strong international demand for dairy products in 2014 meant a profitably year for Wisconsin’s dairy farm families. The survey is catching what is likely the tail-end of a wave of high dairy prices.”
“Dairy is a cylical business, and all indications are that dairy prices will decline in 2015,” Eckelberg added.
“One of the main food stories in 2014 has been the price of meats,” Eckelberg said. “Tight supplies and incredible demand for items like beef and pork sent their prices skyward. This trend stands in contrast Thanksgiving’s traditional main course of turkey.”
“Turkey remains an affordable source of protein,” Eckelberg said. “Wisconsin’s average price for a 16-pound turkey came in at $23.36. That is only 96 cents higher than last year when it was $22.40.”
“Also keep in mind that retailers often feature turkey in special sales and promotions close to Thanksgiving,” Eckelberg said. “Our survey was conducted in October. Shoppers who wait until the days before Thanksgiving to buy their bird will likely get a bargain.”
“Americans will consume nearly 46 million turkeys this Thanksgiving, and we lead the world in annual turkey consumption. However, turkey’s popularity expands beyond our borders,” Eckelberg said. “Mexico buys more than half of its turkeys from the U.S. annually, making it the leading foreign customer. Other top importers of U.S. turkeys include China, Hong Kong, Canada and the Dominican Republic.”
Farmer’s share is just $8.13
Over the last three decades retail grocery prices have gradually increased while the share of the average dollar spent on food that farm families receive has dropped. In the mid-1970s, farmers received about one-third of consumer retail food expenditures in grocery stores and restaurants. Since then that figure has decreased steadily and is now about 16 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s revised Food Dollar Series. Using that percentage across the board, the farmer’s share of this year’s $50.86 Thanksgiving meal would be $8.13.
“From the turkey to potatoes to cranberries, Wisconsin farmers are proud to produce much of the food served at Thanksgiving celebrations,” Eckelberg said.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture says Americans will spend approximately 10 percent of their disposable annual income on food this year, the lowest average in the world.
About the survey
The Thanksgiving price survey is an informal, annual look at the trends in food prices in Wisconsin in relation to changing farm prices, weather and wholesale and retail food marketing. Members of the Wisconsin Farm Bureau collected price samples of 12 Thanksgiving food items in 23 communities in October.
Farm Bureau volunteer shoppers are asked to look for the best possible prices, without taking advantage of special promotional coupons or purchase deals. While Farm Bureau does not make any scientific claims about the data, it is an informal gauge of price trends.