- April Walloga
- The average price of a traditional Thanksgiving dinner is at a five-year low, according to a 2017 report from the American Farm Bureau Federation (ABF).
- For a group of 10, it will cost around $49.12 this year – or $4 per person.
- The low price is largely due to the declining cost of turkey.
For the average American family, the price tag of this year’s Thanksgiving dinner will be at its lowest since 2012.
According to a new report from the American Farm Bureau Federation, a table of turkey and all the fixings will cost approximately $49.12 for a group of 10 (including leftovers). That’s around $4 per person.
To get that total, the bureau enlisted 141 volunteer shoppers, who reported prices at grocery stores in 39 states and were asked to look for the best possible prices and not use coupons. The report defines a traditional Thanksgiving dinner as including a 16-pound turkey, a 14-ounce package of bread stuffing, a gallon of milk, a dozen rolls, two nine-inch pie shells, a 30-ounce can of pumpkin pie mix, a half-pint of whipping cream, a 3-pound bag of sweet potatoes, a 12-ounce bag of fresh cranberries, a 1-pound bag of green peas, a 1-pound veggie tray, coffee, and various ingredients to prepare the meal (e.g. butter, evaporated milk, onions, eggs, sugar, and flour).
Throughout the year, turkeys are slaughtered and then put in cold storage, with the number of birds peaking in September, according to the United States Department of Agriculture. On any given year, there are between 500 to 600 million pounds of turkey in cold storage before Thanksgiving, or nearly two pounds of turkey for every non-vegetarian in the US.
This year’s estimated Thanksgiving dinner price is a $0.75 decrease from 2016. The ABF attributes the declining cost to the falling cost of turkeys, which usually happens every year before Thanksgiving.
For example, in the average year, November’s price per pound for turkey falls 10% lower than the price in September. As The New York Times’ Catherine Rampbell notes, grocery stores know that consumers coming in to buy turkeys will likely buy other items too, like ingredients for Thanksgiving side dishes.
But compared to 2016, the prices of many side dish items are actually higher: pumpkin pie mix (a 2.6% increase), whipped cream (up 4%), cranberries (a 1.7% increase), and pre-packaged stuffing (a 5.2% rise). Even if supermarkets take a hit from low turkey prices, they can still make up for it in other ways.