Thanksgiving Dinner Cost Down, Supplies Ample

“The average cost of this year’s Thanksgiving dinner is the lowest since 2010.”

Thanksgiving celebrations will look different for many Americans due to COVID-19, but one tradition that continues this year is the American Farm Bureau Federation’s annual cost survey of classic items found on the Thanksgiving Day dinner table.

Farm Bureau’s 35th annual survey indicates the average cost of this year’s Thanksgiving feast for 10 remains affordable at $46.90 or less than $5.00 per person. This is a $2.01 decrease from last year’s average of $48.91.

“The average cost of this year’s Thanksgiving dinner is the lowest since 2010,” said AFBF Chief Economist Dr. John Newton. “Pricing whole turkeys as ‘loss leaders’ to entice shoppers and move product is a strategy we’re seeing retailers use that’s increasingly common the closer we get to the holiday,” he explained.

The centerpiece on most Thanksgiving tables – the turkey – costs less than last year, at $19.39 for a 16-pound bird. That’s roughly $1.21 per pound, down 7% from last year. The survey results show that retail turkey prices are the lowest since 2010.

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.

In addition to turkey, foods that showed slight price declines include whipping cream and sweet potatoes. Foods showing modest increases this year included dinner rolls, cubed bread stuffing and pumpkin pie mix. After adjusting for inflation, the cost of this year’s Thanksgiving dinner is $18.01, down slightly from last year.

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 by $13.21, to $60.11. This updated basket of foods also declined slightly in price (4%) compared to 2019.

Although it’s difficult to predict if panic purchasing will again become a concern due to the pandemic, “Turkeys – and other staples of the traditional Thanksgiving meal – are currently in ample supply at grocery stores in most areas of the country,” Newton said.

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