Average cost for Thanksgiving meal for 10: $49.12

American Farm Bureau Federation releases annual findings

A Thanksgiving table. (Andrew Rush/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette/TNS)
A Thanksgiving table. (Andrew Rush/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette/TNS)

The average cost for a Thanksgiving meal for 10 people is less than $50, according to the results of an annual survey conducted by the American Farm Bureau Federation.

The 32nd annual Thanksgiving Dinner Price Survey, released last week, shows the average cost of a meal that can feed 10 people is $49.12.

The price survey of the classic staples of a Thanksgiving meal showed a 75-cent decrease from the 2016 average cost of $49.87 and reflects the second consecutive year of a price decrease. The average Thanksgiving dinner has been stable since 2011, the federation reports.

With the release of the survey, Tim Johnson, senior research and policy analyst with the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation, said while the news may be great for consumers, record Iowa soybean and corn yields the past few years have created an abundant supply, but resulted in sagging commodity prices and tight margins for Iowa farmers.

“With farm income down and margins tight, farmers are looking for ways to diversify and manage through the downturned farm economy,” said Johnson. “While consumers certainly enjoy the savings at the grocery store, the downturned ag economy has forced farmers to take a close look at their operations to remain sustainable.”

The big ticket item on the Thanksgiving Dinner Price Survey — a 16-pound turkey — came in at a total of $22.38 this year. That’s roughly $1.40 per pound, a decrease of 2 cents per pound, or a total of 36 cents per whole turkey, compared to 2016.

According to the latest U.S. Department of Agriculture analysis, “the number of turkeys raised in Iowa surpassed 12 million in 2017, representing a 3 percent increase from the previous year,” Johnson noted. “The overall trend in the U.S. is very similar, also showing slight growth and continuing rebound from lower production in 2015.”


The full survey shopping list included turkey, bread stuffing, sweet potatoes, rolls with butter, peas, cranberries, a relish tray of celery and carrots, pumpkin pie with whipped cream, and beverages of coffee and milk, in quantities sufficient to feed 10 people.

In addition to turkey, foods showing the largest decreases this year were a gallon of whole milk, $2.99; a dozen dinner rolls, $2.26; two 9-inch pie shells, $2.45; a 3-pound bag of sweet potatoes, $3.52; and a 1-pound bag of green peas, $1.53.

Items that increased this year over last, included a half-pint of whipping cream, $2.08; a 14-ounce package of bread stuffing, $2.81; a 30-ounce can of pumpkin pie mix, $3.21; a 12-ounce bag of fresh cranberries, $2.43; and a 1-pound veggie tray, 74 cents.

A total of 141 volunteer shoppers checked grocery store prices in 39 states for the annual Thanksgiving survey. The survey menu has not changed since it was first conducted in 1986 to allow for consistent price comparisons.



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