The Margin: Gobble it up! Thanksgiving turkeys are the cheapest they’ve been in 9 years
Your Thanksgiving turkey won’t gobble up as much of your food budget this year — but dairy products are taking a bigger bite.
That’s the dish from the 34th American Farm Bureau Federation survey, which itemizes the price of the foods traditionally served at Thanksgiving dinner each year. The Farm Bureau’s shopping list includes enough turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes, rolls with butter, peas, cranberries, a vegetable tray, pumpkin pie with whipped cream, coffee and milk to feed a family of 10 — with plenty of leftovers. And this year, the average cost of a turkey dinner with the trimmings comes in under $50 on average — or $48.91, to be exact, which is just a penny higher than last year, meaning it’s essentially unchanged. That breaks down to less than $5 per person.
If you were to add ham, potatoes and frozen green beans to the meal, however, the overall cost would increase another $6 per person, to a grand total of $62.32.
Of course, shoppers could spend significantly more in expensive metros like NYC or San Francisco, or bagging organic products could also drive up the cost.
Then again, bargain hunters can also save a pretty penny by shopping around. Indeed, German grocery chain Aldi, which has drummed up a fan base for its low prices, argues that the Farm Bureau’s Thanksgiving shopping list comes in much cheaper if shoppers buy the ingredients at its stores. It claims that the items on the Farm Bureau’s annual shopping list ring up to $32,02 at Aldi, or $16.89 less than the Farm Bureau’s national average, according to a press release.
And a recent Cheap Grocery Price Survey from Cheapism.com supports this claim, as Aldi’s grocery tab came in 14% cheaper than Walmart’s
Still, the Thanksgiving tab is shaping up to be more manageable for many families this year. “The average cost of this year’s Thanksgiving dinner is essentially unchanged from last year, after three years of decline since 2015,” wrote AFBF chief economist Dr. John Newton in a press release statement.
And that’s in part because turkey prices are the lowest that they’ve been since 2010, according to Farm Bureau the report. The average 16-pound turkey runs $20.80 (roughly $1.30 a pound) this year, or almost $1 less than last year’s gobblers. That’s in part because innovations in housing and genetics mean it takes less time and less feed to raise a turkey to market weight than it used to. In fact, turkeys today cost less than half the price per pound that they did in the 1970s, after adjusting for inflation.
The price of cubed stuffing also dropped 19 cents, at $2.68 for 14 ounces, while pumpkin pie mix and whipped cream stayed pretty much the same as last year (the pie mix is a penny less, in fact.)
But those candied yams are gonna cost ya, as sweet potatoes are up 36 cents, averaging $3.75 for 3 pounds. (The Louisiana Sweet Potato Commission warned earlier this year that wet weather had hurt the supply.) And a gallon of whole milk costs 18 cents more, ringing up at $3.10 on average, reflecting rising milk prices around the globe, which has been driven in part by a surge in demand from China. A dozen dinner rolls and miscellaneous ingredients also rose 25 cents and 21 cents, respectively.