As many families struggle with the economic impacts of the pandemic, there is good news in this year’s Thanksgiving dinner cost survey, conducted by the American Farm Bureau Federation. The average cost of a traditional Thanksgiving dinner for 10 remains affordable for consumers, coming in at $46.90 or less than $5 per person, a decline of 4% from last year.
The 35th annual informal survey of classic food items typically found on the Thanksgiving Day table shows the average cost of this year’s Thanksgiving dinner is the lowest since 2010. The AFBF Thanksgiving dinner survey was first conducted in 1986. The informal survey provides a record of comparative holiday meal costs over the years. Farm Bureau’s classic survey menu has remained unchanged since 1986 to allow for consistent price comparisons.
Farm Bureau volunteer shoppers were encouraged to check prices online using grocery store apps and websites due to the pandemic. The average cost of turkey this year is $19.39 for a 16-pound whole bird or $1.21 per pound. This is a decrease of about 7% from last year.
The price of a 4-pound ham remained the same, $9.16. Stable pork prices at the retail level is welcome news given the strong year-over-year increase in wholesale ham prices due to improved pork exports and domestic demand.
In addition to turkey, other foods that showed slight price declines included whipping cream, down 16%, and sweet potatoes, down 8%. Foods showing modest increases this year included fresh cranberries, dinner rolls, cubed bread stuffing and pumpkin pie mix.
Thanksgiving celebrations will look different for many Americans this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and some families may even opt for the time-saving convenience of meal delivery services, which continues to grow among consumers. A price check of popular meal delivery services indicates a 16-pound turkey costs 64% more ($1.99 per pound) compared to Farm Bureau’s average. The total cost of the Thanksgiving meal priced by Farm Bureau would be about 42% higher when purchased from a meal delivery service.
With more families eating food at home this holiday, it’s important to note that the farm share of the food-at-home dollar was 13.2% in 2018, compared to 2.4% for the farmer’s share of the food-away-from-home dollar. U.S. farmers and ranchers are #StillFarming.