This year nearly 50 million turkeys will be smoked, brined, deep-fried, stuffed with White Castle burgers, or cooked the traditional way on November 23. The good news for those tasked with cooking (and paying) for Thanksgiving dinner is that lower turkey retail prices means the feast is at its most affordable since 2013.
The American Farm Bureau Federation has found that the average cost of this year's home-cooked Thanksgiving meal for 10 is $49.12, a 75-cent decrease from last year's average. Adjusting for inflation, the cost of dinner is $20.54, the lowest it has been in five years.
“For the second consecutive year, the overall cost of Thanksgiving dinner has declined,” AFBF Director of Market Intelligence Dr. John Newton said. “Even as America’s family farmers and ranchers continue to face economic challenges, they remain committed to providing a safe, abundant and affordable food supply for consumers at Thanksgiving and throughout the year.”
The nonprofit, which is almost a century old and represents agricultural producers across the country, conducts an annual informal price survey of classic items found on the Thanksgiving Day dinner table, including turkey, bread stuffing, sweet potatoes, rolls with butter, peas, cranberries, a veggie tray, pumpkin pie with whipped cream, and coffee and milk. The quantities used in their calculation are said to be enough to feed a group of 10 diners with plenty of leftovers.
According to AFBF, wholesale turkey prices are currently at their lowest since 2013, and a 16-pound turkey costs an average of $22.38 this year – 36 cents cheaper compared to 2016. Retail turkey prices have dropped this year due to continued large inventory in cold storage, which is up almost double digits from last year. Since the turkey represents half of the total cost of the meal, it is the biggest factor driving the decline this year.
Other items showing the biggest decreases this year are milk, rolls, pie shells and sweet potatoes. Items seeing price increases are whipping cream, bread stuffing and pumpkin pie mix.
“Whole whipping cream is up about 4 percent in price, due to increased consumer demand for full-fat dairy products,” Newton said.