The average cost of a traditional Thanksgiving dinner will cost slightly less this year, the American Farm Bureau Federation (A.F.B.F.) said based on its annual informal price survey.
A classic Thanksgiving dinner will cost $49.87, down 24c from $50.11 last year, which was the highest in the 31-year history of the survey, the A.F.B.F. said. The cost of five items on the list was lower from 2015 while the cost of seven items was higher. The menu has been unchanged since the survey began in 1986.
“Consumers will pay less than $5 per person for a classic Thanksgiving dinner this year,” said John Newton, A.F.B.F. director of market intelligence. “We have seen farm prices for many foods — including turkeys — fall from the higher levels of recent years. This translates into lower retail prices for a number of items as we prepare for Thanksgiving and confirms that U.S. consumers benefit from an abundant, high-quality and affordable food supply.”
Average prices of items that declined included: a 16-lb turkey at $22.74, down 30c from 2015; 30-oz of pumpkin pie mix at $3.13, down 7c; a gallon of whole milk at $3.17, down 8c; a 1-lb relish tray at 73c, down 6c; and miscellaneous ingredients at $2.81, down 37c.
Higher-priced items from a year ago included: 12 dinner rolls at $2.46, up 21c; two pie shells at $2.59, up 12c; 1 lb of green peas at $1.58, up 6c; 12 oz of fresh cranberries at $2.39, up 10c; a half pint of whipping cream at $2, up 6c; 14 oz of cubed stuffing at $2.67, up 6c; and 3 lbs of sweet potatoes at $3.60, up 3c.
“Due to a significant expansion in global milk production, prices fell to the lowest levels since 2009, leading to lower retail milk and dairy product prices,” Dr. Newton said. “Additionally, this year’s pumpkin prices are slightly lower following the production decline and higher prices seen in 2015.”
The survey involved 148 volunteer shoppers in 40 states who were asked to find the lowest food prices without coupons or promotional deals such as a minimum food purchase. The A.F.B.F. makes clear that the survey is not scientific, but it does note that the average price for this year’s dinner tracks closely with the government’s Consumer Price Index for food eaten at home, which most recently showed about a 2% decline from a year ago.