The 2010 Thanksgiving market basket will average $40.64 for 10 people, according to an LSU AgCenter survey.
“That’s an increase of $3.12 from last year’s Baton Rouge average of $37.52 – or an increase of 9 percent,” said LSU AgCenter family economist Jeanette Tucker.
The Louisiana survey was based on an American Farm Bureau Federation shopping list includes turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes, rolls with butter, peas, cranberries, a relish tray of carrots and celery, pumpkin pie with whipped cream and beverages of coffee and milk, all in quantities sufficient to serve a group of 10.
The cost of a 16-pound turkey at $16.28, or roughly $1.02 per pound, reflects an increase of 18 cents per pound or a total increase of $2.81 per turkey. “This is the largest contributor to the overall increase in the cost of the 2010 Thanksgiving dinner,” Tucker said.
While this reflects a notable change, Tucker said turkey remains a bargain for the frugal shopper – healthy, delicious, lean meat for around $1 per pound. She said the cost increase could be attributed to several factors, notably higher grain costs that have increased the cost of production of food animals. Poultry production also is down from historic levels.
The LSU AgCenter and Farm Bureau surveys both looked for the best possible prices without taking advantage of special promotional coupons or purchase deals.
Research suggests that four out of five Thanksgiving turkeys are sold on a holiday special. U.S. Department of Agriculture research in 2004 found that whole, frozen turkeys sold in November were two-thirds the cost consumers paid for similar turkeys during the other 11 months of the year.
“This suggests that many consumers will probably purchase Thanksgiving turkeys for considerably less than either survey reports,” Tucker said. With projected holiday price decreases, wise shoppers may wish to purchase a second turkey to keep in the freezer for future low-cost meals.
Other items that showed a price increase include three pounds sweet potatoes, $2.66 (up 45 cents); 12-ounce cubed stuffing mix, $2.84 (up 41 cents); 12- ounce bag of fresh cranberries, 2.85 (up 33 cents); one gallon of whole milk, $4.07 (up 19 cents); 30-ounce pumpkin pie mix, $2.73 (up 5 cents); and 16-ounce frozen green peas, $1.31 (up 2 cents).
Items showing a price decrease this year include 12-ounce brown and serve rolls, $1.63 (down 50 cents); two 9-inch pie shells, $2.15 (down 29 cents); and 8 ounces of whipping cream, $1.62 (down 16 cents).
The Farm Bureau study didn’t provide enough information to replicate the costs for a group of miscellaneous items such as coffee, celery, carrots and other ingredients necessary to prepare the meal – onions, eggs, sugar, flour, evaporated milk and butter.
“Thus, the AgCenter used last year’s national average of $2.50,” Tucker said.
Consumer Price Index data indicate the cost of food at home increased 1.4 percent during the 12-month period ending in September 2010. The 9 percent increase in the cost of the Thanksgiving market basket suggests these items saw greater price increases than the market as a whole.
The Farm Bureau survey was first conducted in 1986 when the average cost of a Thanksgiving meal for 10 was $28.74. According to Consumer Price Index data, the 1986 Thanksgiving market basket would cost $57.28 in 2010 dollars, indicating the real cost of the holiday meal has actually decreased over time.
“On average, American consumers have enjoyed stable food costs over the years, particularly when you adjust for inflation,” Tucker said.
Consumers can enjoy a wholesome, home-cooked turkey dinner for just over $4 per person - less than a typical fast food meal. “That’s a real bargain in these challenging economic times,” Tucker not