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For Immediate Release

Thanksgiving feast cost drops for second straight year

Drop in turkey prices leads way in annual Farm Bureau survey

11/12/2010 at 12:00 a.m.

LITTLE ROCK — It will cost families less to prepare the traditional Thanksgiving meal this year, due in part to discounted turkey prices. According to Arkansas Farm Bureau’s annual survey, it will cost a family of 10, on average, $39.61, or just under $4 per person. That’s down $1.14 from last year’s average of $40.75. In 2008, the cost peaked at $40.97.

The statewide average is based on responses from nine members of the state Women’s Committee who surveyed food prices at supermarkets across the state. They were asked to report the “best in-store price” of 12 items included in the meal and are allowed to take advantage of advertised specials, excluding discount coupons and purchase requirements.

“With the average cost of the meal down nearly three percent, this demonstrates a continuation in the softness of general economic conditions across the country,”  said Travis Justice, Arkansas Farm Bureau chief economist. “These results show that overall food price inflation is stabilizing for many items on the shopping list, at least for the time being.”

Arkansas Farm Bureau has surveyed the cost of items included in the meal for the past 25 years. Though the overall cost of living has risen during that time, Arkansas Farm Bureau president Randy Veach says the fact Arkansans may still prepare and enjoy the meal for around $4 per person is remarkable.

“After rising the past several years, the fact that the cost of the traditional Thanksgiving dinner is down more than a dollar is a testament to the efficiency of our nation’s farmers and food production system,” said Veach.

“We never know what conditions we will have to plant and harvest in. Last year was the wettest on record. This year we had extreme heat and drought in parts of the state. Though not as high as a couple of years ago, energy and fuel costs remain a significant factor. Despite this, families are still able to come together at Thanksgiving and share this meal for about four dollars per person. In this economic climate that is truly reason to give thanks.”

Arkansas food prices continue to remain more affordable than elsewhere. American Farm Bureau’s national survey revealed an average cost of $43.47 to prepare the meal, an increase of 56 cents from $42.91 in 2009.

In Arkansas, the average price of a 16-pound young tom turkey this year is $13.60 or 85 cents per pound, down from $16.58 or $1.04 per pound in 2009. Justice says it appears many retail outlets are discounting the price of their “store-brand” frozen turkeys to attract more shoppers. That trend is being reflected nationally as American Farm Bureau’s survey reports average turkey prices dropping 99 cents from a year ago to $17.66.

In addition to turkey, prices for brown-and-serve rolls, frozen green peas and cranberries were also lower. A 12-count package of rolls is $1.49 this year, down 31 cents, while a package of green peas is $1.15, down from $1.50 a year ago. A 12 ounce package of cranberries dropped a nickel to $2.39.

Items on the list that saw modest price increases include cubed stuffing, up 16 cents; pumpkin pie mix, up 25 cents; a package of two frozen pie shells, up 14 cents; three pounds of sweet potatoes, up 36 cents; a pound of carrots, up 17 cents; a bunch of celery, up 13 cents; a gallon of milk, up 32 cents; and a one half pint carton of whipping cream, up 32 cents. Individual totals ranged from a low of $31.82 in Clinton, to $50.86 in McCrory.

The survey period was Oct. 29 - Nov. 8. The shopping list has remained unchanged since 1986 to allow consistent price comparisons. Though unscientific, the survey is intended to be a gauge of actual price trends across Arkansas and the nation.


Click Photo for High Resolution Version

Click Photo for High Resolution Version

The average cost of this year's Thanksgiving feast to feed a family of 10 is $39.61, down $1.14 from $40.75 in 2009. This is due in part to a drop in the average cost of  frozen turkey, brown and serve rolls and green peas.


2010 Thanksgiving Dinner Survey Items and Avg. Prices




16 lb. Tom Turkey

            $13.60 (.85/lb)

            $16.58 (1.04./lb)

Cubed Stuffing (Herb Seasoning)



Libby’s Pumpkin Pie Mix (30 oz)



9” Frozen Pie Shells (2)



Sweet Potatoes (3 lbs)

            2.85 (.95/lb)

             2.49 (.83/lb)

Brown & Serve Rolls (12 count)



Frozen Green Peas  (16 oz pkg)



Fresh Carrots (lb)



Fresh Celery (bunch)



Whole Milk (gal)



Fresh Cranberries (12 oz pkg)



Whipping Cream  (1/2 pint carton)






**Miscellaneous category includes coffee and ingredients necessary to prepare the meal (onions, eggs, sugar, flour, evaporated milk, and butter). This average price is determined by American Farm Bureau and is a consistent figure to be used in the national survey.

Overall Statewide Average
2010 – $39.61
2009 – $40.75
2008 – $40.97
2007 – $39.13
2006 – $33.82
2005 – $30.81

Individual Surveys (9)


                     $ 31.82

Siloam Springs

                     $ 35.19


                     $ 36.30


                     $ 37.03

West Helena

                     $ 39.44


                     $ 40.84


                     $ 41.91

Hot Springs

                     $ 43.14


                     $ 50.86

NOTE: The survey is conducted by members of the Arkansas Farm Bureau State Women’s Committee. The women are urged to report the best in-store price, noting advertised specials, but disregarding promotional coupons and purchase requirements. The results are unscientific, but are intended to reflect actual price trends across the state. The survey period was Oct. 29 – Nov. 8.

Arkansas Farm Bureau is a nonprofit, private advocacy organization of more than 219,000 families throughout the state working to improve farm and rural life.


For more information contact:

Steve Eddington
(501) 228-1383
PO Box 31, Little Rock 72203


Ken Moore
(501) 228-1512
PO Box 31, Little Rock 72203

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