Thanksgiving Turkey a Tad More Expensive
Business + Economy

Thanksgiving Turkey a Tad More Expensive

REUTERS/Brian Snyder

It’s the perennial complain of most Americans: “Things are more expensive than they used to be.”

When it comes to this year’s Thanksgiving turkey, they’ll be right – mostly right, that is.

In a new survey, the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) has found that the average cost of this year’s Turkey Day feast for a gathering of 10 will be $49.48, or a 28-cent price increase from last year’s average of $49.20. It’s about a one percent increase over the average cost of last year’s meal.

The AFBF has been doing an informal price survey of traditional items on the Thanksgiving Day dinner table every year since 1986. Its shopping list this year included turkey, bread stuffing, sweet potatoes, rolls with butter, peas, cranberries, carrots, celery, pumpkin pie with whipped cream (yum), and beverages of coffee and milk, enough to serve a family of 10.

The meal’s big-ticket item — a 16-pound turkey — clocked in at $22.23 this year. That’s about $1.39 per pound, an increase of about 4 cents per pound, or a total of 66 cents per whole turkey compared to 2011. That’s a three percent jump.

“The whole bird was the biggest contributor to the final total, showing the largest price increase compared to last year,” Farm and Dairy reports.

Along with the turkey, a combined group of miscellaneous items, including coffee and the ingredients needed to make the meal (onions, eggs, sugar, flour, milk, butter) also increased in price, to $3.18, according to the survey.

“Most Americans will pay about the same as last year at the grocery store for a turkey and all the trimmings,” said John Anderson, AFBF’s deputy chief economist. “A slight increase in demand for turkey is responsible for the moderate price increase our shoppers reported for the bird.” Due to this summer’s drought, turkey farmers also saw higher grain costs.

But bargains from supermarkets and other food stores – as always – await those who put off buying their bird until the holiday is practically upon them. “Anyone with the patience to wait until the last minute to buy a turkey for Thanksgiving could be rewarded with an exceptional bargain,” said Anderson of the AFBF. 

And speaking of holiday shopping: Discount retailer Target Corporation, based in Minneapolis, just announced that it will join other merchants in opening its doors early for Black Friday shopping. Target stores will open at 9 p.m. on Thanksgiving night, right after most people have polished off their last bites of pumpkin pie. Walmart and Sears have said they will open their doors at 8 p.m. Thanksgiving night.