Thanksgiving dinner and turkey prices at lowest cost in 10 years

The average cost for a family of 10 is just $46.90

Thanksgiving celebrations will look different this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Gatherings are expected to be fewer with social distancing in place even in rural areas. However, something consumers can enjoy this year are the lowest dinner and turkey prices since 2010.

According to the 35th annual American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) Thanksgiving Dinner Price Survey, the average cost for a family of 10 is just $46.90 (less than $5.00 per person.) This is a significant $2.01 decrease from last year’s average of $48.91. Here’s a look at Thanksgiving dinner prices the last 10 years:

  • 2019: $48.91
  • 2018: $48.90
  • 2017: $49.12
  • 2016: $49.87
  • 2015: $50.11
  • 2014: $49.41
  • 2013: $52.23
  • 2012: $49.48
  • 2011: $49.20
  • 2010: $43.47

“The average cost of this year’s Thanksgiving dinner is the lowest since 2010,” said AFBF Chief Economist Dr. John Newton. “Pricing whole turkeys as loss leaders to entice shoppers and move product is a strategy we’re seeing retailers use that’s increasingly common the closer we get to the holiday,” he explained.

The heart of the dinner feature, the traditional turkey, costs less than last year at $19.39 for a 16-pound turkey, roughly $1.21 per pound, down 7% from last year. Here’s a look at turkey prices since 2010:

  • 2019: $20.80
  • 2018: $21.71
  • 2017: $22.38
  • 2016: $22.02
  • 2015: $23.04
  • 2014: $21.65
  • 2013: $21.76
  • 2012: $22.23
  • 2011: $21.57
  • 2010: $17.66

Other items on the shopping list include stuffing, peas, cranberries, sweet potatoes, rolls with butter, pumpkin pie with whipped cream, a veggie tray, coffee, and milk.

Foods that also showed a price decrease this year include whipped cream, down 34¢ to $1.74, and sweet potatoes, down 31¢ to $3.44. Rolls with butter, up 16¢ to $2.66, cubed bread stuffing, up 13¢ to $2.81, and pumpkin pie mix, up 7¢ to $3.39, were among the foods that showed a small increase this year.

“Although it’s difficult to predict if panic purchasing will again become a concern due to the pandemic, turkeys and other staples of the traditional Thanksgiving meal are currently in ample supply at grocery stores in most areas of the country,” Newton said.

Farmers continue to persevere to produce food throughout the pandemic despite the challenges of volatile markets that have been recognized by the public. Nearly nine in 10 adults trust farmers according to a recent AFBF public opinion research.  

More than 230 volunteer shoppers were encouraged to check prices online for the annual survey using grocery store apps and websites due to the pandemic. AFBF’s survey menu has remained unchanged since its first survey in 1986 for consistent price comparisons.

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