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Food Cost of Thanksgiving

This year Thanksgiving will still cause you to punch a hole in your belt, but not in your wallet

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There's one more thing to give thanks for as you gather around the table with friends and family this Thanksgiving: a cheaper holiday meal.

The price of a Thanksgiving dinner is at its lowest since 2013, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation's 32nd annual price survey.

This year the average cost of a feast for 10 is $49.12, which is down 75 cents from last year's average of $49.87.

As part of the survey, a total of 141 volunteer shoppers from 39 states across the country purchased Thanksgiving staples like a 16-pound turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes, rolls with butter, peas, cranberries, a veggie tray, pumpkin pie with whipped cream, coffee and milk. Shoppers were asked to look for the best possible prices without using coupons or taking advantage of any special purchase deals.
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John Newton, the director of market intelligence at the American Farm Bureau Federation, said this year's Thanksgiving dinner will be a little cheaper because wholesale turkey prices are at their lowest level since 2013.

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"Our volunteer shoppers found the average price of a turkey at $1.40 per pound," Newton said. "Given that the turkey represents nearly 50 percent of the cost of the basket, when the price of turkey goes down, so too does the price of the Thanksgiving dinner."

Newton added that the number of turkeys in cold storage were up about 22 percent this year compared to last year, which contributed to the decrease in the average cost of the overall meal.

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When the price of a Thanksgiving dinner is below $5 per person, Newton said that opens up more room in the budget for extras.

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"Maybe you want a ham to go with your Thanksgiving dinner, maybe you want mac-and-cheese or maybe you want an adult beverage to relax while you watch football," he said. "Thanksgiving dinner is affordable enough that the U.S. consumer has that option if they so choose."

Although this survey only accounts for the cost of a Thanksgiving dinner, Newton said because food prices have remained stable over the last few years, he expects it to remain affordable for consumers throughout the holiday season.
Related stories on Circa:
This Thanksgiving leftover sandwich demands to be eaten for weeks. But you'll need a passphrase.
Turkey to the Bone: coming soon to a theater near you
This ice cream shop is serving a five-course Thanksgiving meal... in ice cream

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