The American Farm Bureau Federation’s 34th annual survey of classic items found on the Thanksgiving Day dinner table indicates the average cost of this year’s feast for 10 is $48.91, up just a penny from last year. That Thanksgiving meal for 10 is less than $5 per person.
Locally, that same meal can be purchased in Vermilion County for $45.05, a 5.4 percent increase from the previous year. But that local meal still costs less than the national average – this year it’s 7.9 percent below the national number.
“The average cost of this year’s Thanksgiving dinner is essentially unchanged from last year, after three years of decline since 2015,” said AFBF Chief Economist Dr. John Newton. “Americans continue to enjoy the most affordable food supply in the world.” he added.
The centerpiece on most Thanksgiving tables – the turkey – costs slightly less than last year, at $20.80 for a 16-pound bird. That’s roughly $1.30 per pound, down 4 percent from last year. The survey results show that retail turkey prices are the lowest since 2010. The Vermilion County price for the Thanksgiving bird was 99 cents per pound, for a total of $15.84.
The shopping list for Farm Bureau’s informal survey includes turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes, rolls with butter, peas, cranberries, a veggie tray, pumpkin pie with whipped cream, and coffee and milk, all in quantities sufficient to serve a family of 10 with plenty for leftovers.
The costs for two pumpkin pies dropped 62 cents locally, and were just 4 cents higher in the national survey. Foods on the shopping list that showed modest increases were the dinner rolls, sweet potatoes and milk.
An opinion poll conducted by Farm Bureau revealed that 90 percent of Americans celebrate the holiday with a special meal and turkey remains a staple for 95 percent of consumers, while half serve both turkey and ham at their Thanksgiving meal. In recognition of changes in Thanksgiving dinner traditions, the Farm Bureau price survey also includes ham, potatoes and frozen green beans. Adding these foods to the classic Thanksgiving menu increased the overall cost slightly, to $62.32 or just over $6 per person.
Despite the growing popularity of prepared foods, the vast majority of Americans, 92 percent, celebrate Thanksgiving at home or at a family member’s home and most cook their entire meal at home, according to the survey.
More than 250 volunteer shoppers checked prices at grocery stores in 38 states for this year’s survey. Farm Bureau volunteer shoppers are asked to look for the best possible prices, without taking advantage of special promotional coupons or purchase deals, such as spending $50 and receiving a free turkey. After adjusting for inflation, the cost of this year’s Thanksgiving dinner is $19.13, down slightly from last year.
Farm Bureau also surveyed the price of a traditional Thanksgiving meal available from popular food delivery services. This revealed that the convenience of food delivery does have a larger price tag. A 16-pound turkey was nearly 50 percent more expensive at nearly $2 per pound when purchased from a food delivery service. Nearly every individual item was more expensive compared to the Farm Bureau average and the total cost of the dinner was about 60 percent higher at about $8 per person.
The AFBF Thanksgiving dinner survey was first conducted in 1986. While Farm Bureau does not make any scientific claims about the data, it is an informal gauge of price trends around the nation. Farm Bureau’s basic survey menu has remained unchanged since 1986 to allow for consistent price comparisons.