Thanksgiving meal costs 13 percent more in 2011

Fresh or frozen turkeys, whole chickens, hams and other Thanksgiving dinner items are now being accepted at Multi-Service Center
Fresh or frozen turkeys, whole chickens, hams and other Thanksgiving dinner items are now being accepted at Multi-Service Center's Federal Way Food Bank. All items will be kept frozen until distribution to families in need during Thanksgiving week. Drop off items Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., at MSC Food Bank Warehouse (alley behind our program building), 1200 S. 336th St., Federal Way.
— image credit: Courtesy photo

The American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) announced that the total cost of a Thanksgiving dinner for 10 will increase by $5.73 to $49.20 — about 13 percent higher than last year.

The AFBF reports that the increase is the largest it has seen in 26 years of this informal price survey.

The biggest bump in price comes from the turkey itself, the AFBF survey notes. A 16-pound turkey will run consumers $21.57, up 22 percent from 2010. A combination of factors has led to the increased cost in America’s favorite holiday mainstay, from higher demand for turkeys worldwide to higher costs for feeding them.

AFBF president Bob Stallman says Americans are still getting a deal on Thanksgiving dinner.

“The cost of this year’s meal remains a bargain, at just under $5 per person,” said Stallman, a rice and cattle producer from Texas. “The quality and variety of food produced for our dinner tables on America’s diverse farms and ranches sets us apart from our contemporaries around the world. It is an honor for our farm and ranch families to produce the food from our nation’s land for family Thanksgiving celebrations.”

Another factor in the AFBF survey that may affect its numbers, the group concedes, is that their shoppers look for the best available deal without taking advantage of coupons or promotions. The AFBF’s shopping list included turkey, bread 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.

John Anderson, an AFBF senior economist, said retailers are passing costs on to consumers, leading to the overall trend in rising prices for the holiday meal.

“Retailers are being more aggressive about passing on higher costs for shipping, processing and storing food to consumers, although turkeys may still be featured in special sales and promotions close to Thanksgiving,” he said.

The survey notes a number of other items have increased costs in 2011, reflecting the growing trend of increased food prices overall. They found that a gallon of whole milk had increased by 42 cents to $3.66. A 30-ounce can of pumpkin pie mix is running at $3.03, up 41 cents from last year. A pound of green peas was up 24 cents to $1.68; and a 14-ounce package of cubed bread stuffing will run consumers $2.88 this year, up 24 cents from 2010. A dozen rolls jumped 18 cents to $2.30, while three pounds of sweet potatoes is going for $3.26, an increase of 7 cents from 2010.

To find out more about the survey, visit the AFBF website at


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