Average annual cost rises 70 cents from 2014

Iowans preparing to shop for their annual family Thanksgiving dinner feast can rest assured knowing the traditional meal is still quite a bargain at just over $5 a serving for a family of 10. According to the annual American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) Thanksgiving Dinner Price Survey, the average cost for the annual feast comes in this year at $50.11.

The price survey of the classic staples of a Thanksgiving meal showed a 70-cent increase from last year. However, despite rising food costs for some items at the grocery store, the average Thanksgiving dinner has been stable since 2011, averaging around $50 for a family of 10, and that’s great news for Iowans shopping on a budget.

Despite production disruptions caused earlier this year due to the highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI), or ‘bird flu,’ retail prices have remained stable for turkey, the centerpiece of the traditional Thanksgiving meal. The study also found that turkey supplies are abundant, despite the devastating losses in many flocks.

“As shown in the Farm Bureau Thanksgiving meal survey, while the cost of putting turkey on the table this year has risen less than 15 cents per person, there will be adequate supplies of turkey,” said Dave Miller, IFBF director of research and commodity services. Despite the modest increase in retail turkey prices, Miller noted a drop in dairy prices that benefits consumers’ pocketbooks. “Iowa's dairy farmers have responded to lower grain and feed prices with increased production of milk and cheese. Having a glass of milk with your turkey dinner costs less than a year ago, and at the farm, milk prices are the lowest in 5 years.”

In addition to the increased cost of the whole bird from last year, prices also rose for pumpkin pie mix, bread for the stuffing, and pie shells. Items that declined in cost from last year were mainly dairy items, including a gallon of whole milk, whipping cream, and butter. Other items that declined in price from 2014 included fresh cranberries and the relish tray consisting of carrots, celery, and green peas.

The survey shopping list includes turkey, bread stuffing, sweet potatoes, rolls with butter, peas, cranberries, a relish tray of celery and carrots, pumpkin pie with whipped cream, and beverages of coffee and milk, in quantities sufficient to feed 10 people.

This year’s Thanksgiving survey was the 30th annual study conducted by AFBF. Every region of the country was represented in the annual AFBF Thanksgiving Price Shopping Survey, with 138 volunteer shoppers participating in 32 states.