PRINCETON — With food prices on the rise year-after-year, most shoppers won’t be surprised to know the average cost of this year’s Thanksgiving dinner increased almost a dollar compared to last year.
Each year, the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) conducts a price survey of classic items found on the Thanksgiving Day dinner table. The survey measures for a feast of 10, and takes into account there will be plenty of leftovers following the dinner.
This year, the average cost of the feast totaled around $50.11, which is a 70-cent increase from last year’s cost.
The average cost of the dinner has remained around $49 since 2011. This year’s survey totaled over $50 for the first time.
The big ticket item — a 16-pound turkey — came in at an average cost of $23.04 this year. That’s roughly $1.44 per pound, and an increase of $1.39 per whole turkey compared to 2014.
While there was some disruptions earlier this year due to the Avian influenza outbreak in the Midwest, turkey production was down a bit this year but not dramatically, according to AFBF deputy chief economist John Anderson.
“Our survey shows a modest increase in turkey prices compared to last year. But we’re now starting to see retailers feature turkeys aggressively for the holiday,” he said.
Amy Kline, manager of the meat department at Sullivan’s Foods in Princeton, said the turkey shortage didn’t affect business at all this year because they anticipated the higher prices and ordered turkeys earlier.
Sullivan’s was among local grocery stores that were able to sell turkeys at a competitive price. Turkeys alone were selling at a price of 99 cents a pound at Sullivan’s.
Jason Wagner, store manage of the Spring Valley Supermarket, said they also anticipated the turkey shortage and ordered early. He also confirmed the turkey shortage did not affect business. Turkeys were also selling at a competitive price of 69 cents a pound in Spring Valley.
According to the AFBF survey, other foods that showed the largest increases this year in addition to turkeys were pumpkin pie mix, a dozen brown-n-serve rolls, cubed bread stuffing and pie shells.
Locally, Wagner said he noticed Stove Top stuffing was selling a bit higher this year. Other items, he said stayed about the same, and store manager Tim Vladika of Sullivan’s said he also didn’t see much of change in other food items, as well.
Wagner said one shopping trend he did notice this year was more shoppers purchasing items earlier than normal. In fact, the supermarket ran out of its first shipment of turkeys last weekend, which doesn’t happen often. The second shipment of turkeys was scheduled to be at the store in time for the holiday.
According to AFBF, food items that declined modestly in price were mainly dairy items including one gallon of whole milk, a combined group of miscellaneous items including coffee and ingredients necessary to prepare the meal (butter, evaporated milk, onions, eggs, sugar and flour), a half pint of whipping cream, fresh cranberries, a relish tray of carrots and celery, and also green peas.
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