Saturday, May 18, 2013
Covering Dallas, Monmouth, Independence, Falls City and surrounding areas since 1868
Cost of Thanksgiving dinner continues to rise, if only slightly
November 20, 2012
Ahhhh ... the aroma of a golden brown turkey just out of the oven. Bowls full of mashed potatoes and stuffing. And hot buttered rolls to wipe up that last bit of gravy off your plate.
Oh, and don't forget the pumpkin pie with whipped cream for dessert.
But before we can sit down to enjoy that delicious Thanksgiving meal, we first must round up all the components needed for a holiday dinner.
Most Polk County residents -- cooks in particular -- planning to celebrate Thanksgiving on Thursday have likely been to their favorite grocery store to gather the ingredients for their feast.
They may already know -- and the last-minute procrastinators among us are about to find out -- that this year's meal costs slightly more than a year ago.
The good news? The retail cost of menu items for a classic Thanksgiving dinner, which includes turkey, stuffing, cranberries, pumpkin pie and all the basic trimmings, increased by less than 1 percent this year.
That is according to the American Farm Bureau Federation's 27th annual informal price survey of items found on the Thanksgiving Day dinner table. The survey indicates the national average cost of this year's feast for 10 people is $49.48, a 28-cent price increase from last year's average of $49.20.
Here in Polk County, based on an informal survey of store prices conducted Nov. 14 by the Itemizer-Observer, local residents can expect to pay about the same or less than the national average, depending on where you shop.
"At just under $5 per person, the cost of this year's meal remains a bargain," said AFBF president Bob Stallman.
The survey shopping list includes 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, all in quantities sufficient to serve a family of 10. There is also plenty for leftovers.
The key ingredient -- a 16-pound turkey -- came in at $22.23 this year. That was roughly $1.39 per pound, an increase of about 4 cents per pound, or a total of 66 cents per whole turkey, compared to 2011. The whole bird was the biggest contributor to the final total, showing the largest price increase compared to last year.
"Most Americans will pay about the same as last year at the grocery store for a turkey and all the trimmings," said John Anderson, AFBF's deputy chief economist. "A slight increase in demand for turkey is responsible for the moderate price increase our shoppers reported for the bird."
Savvy shoppers may pay even less for frozen tom turkey compared to AFBF's 155 volunteer shoppers who checked prices at grocery stores in 35 states.
"Turkeys may still be featured in special sales and promotions close to Thanksgiving," Anderson said. "Anyone with the patience to wait until the last minute to buy a turkey for Thanksgiving could be rewarded with an exceptional bargain."
In addition to the turkey, a combined group of miscellaneous items, including coffee and ingredients necessary to prepare the meal (onions, eggs, sugar, flour, evaporated milk and butter) increased in price, to $3.18. A dozen brown-and-serve rolls also increased slightly this year, up 3 cents to $2.33.
Items that showed a price decrease from last year were: a half pint of whipping cream, $1.83, down 13 cents; a 14-ounce package of cubed bread stuffing, $2.77, down 11 cents; three pounds of sweet potatoes, $3.15, down 11 cents; one gallon of whole milk, $3.59, down 7 cents; fresh cranberries, $2.45, down 3 cents; one pound of green peas, $1.66, down 2 cents; a 30-ounce can of pumpkin pie mix and two nine-inch pie shells, $5.53, down 2 cents. A one-pound relish tray of carrots and celery remained the same at 76 cents.
"It seems like we're always paying more for food, but if the increase is only 1 percent, that doesn't seem so bad," said Carol Mackey of Amity, who was shopping for her family's Thanksgiving meal last week at Waremart in Independence.
Mackey and her sister, Trisha, will cook a Thanksgiving meal for 13 family members.
"Thanksgiving is a special meal that everyone seems to look forward to," Carol Mackey said. "You want to do whatever you can to make it enjoyable."
Farm Bureau volunteer shoppers are asked to look for the best possible prices, without taking advantage of special promotional coupons or purchase deals, such as spending $50 and receiving a free turkey. Shoppers with an eye for bargains in all areas of the country should be able to purchase individual menu items at prices comparable to the Farm Bureau survey averages -- and possibly less.
While Farm Bureau does not make any scientific claims about the data, it is an informal gauge of price trends around the nation. Farm Bureau's survey menu has remained unchanged since 1986 to allow for consistent price comparisons.
Amazing Thanksgiving Turkey Trivia
Did you know ...
* Only tom turkeys gobble; hen turkeys make a clicking noise.
* Domesticated turkeys cannot fly, but wild turkeys can fly short distances up to 55 miles per hour and can run 20 miles per hour.
* Domesticated turkeys have an estimated 3,500 feathers at maturity. The bulk are composted or disposed of, although some feathers may be used for special purposes.
* More than 219 million turkeys were consumed in the United States in 2011; about 46 million were eaten at Thanksgiving.
* Nearly 88 percent of Americans surveyed by the National Turkey Federation eat turkey at Thanksgiving.
* A 15-pound turkey usually has about 70 percent white meat and 30 percent dark meat.
* The average American consumes about 16 pounds of turkey per year.
* The first Thanksgiving celebration in 1621 lasted three days -- and turkey was believed to not be part of the feast.
* Benjamin Franklin wanted the turkey to be the national bird of the United States, rather than the bald eagle.
* As far back as 1000 A.D., Native American Indians raised turkeys for food.
* Wild turkeys, which were almost extinct in the early 1900s, now number nearly 7 million in the U.S.
Sources: www.eatturkey.com; www.holidayinsights.com; National Wild Turkey Federation.