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For Immediate Release

Traditional Thanksgiving dinner to cost more in 2011

Higher turkey and milk costs lead price hike in Farm Bureau survey

11/10/2011 at 12:00 a.m.

LITTLE ROCK — It will cost families more to prepare the traditional Thanksgiving meal this year, due in part to significantly higher prices for frozen turkey and a gallon of milk. According to Arkansas Farm Bureau’s annual survey, it will cost a family of 10, on average, $45.11, or $4.50 per person to enjoy the feast. That’s up roughly 14 percent from last year’s average of $39.61.

The statewide average is based on responses from members of the Farm Bureau Women’s Committee and other volunteers who surveyed food prices at 11 grocery stores and supermarkets across the state. They were asked to report the “best in-store price” of 12 items included in the meal. They are allowed to take advantage of advertised specials, excluding discount coupons and purchase requirements.

“Food price inflation has been occurring for the past couple of years so the fact that the cost of the Thanksgiving dinner is higher is not unexpected,” said Travis Justice, Arkansas Farm Bureau chief economist. “Though fuel costs have leveled off somewhat over the past few months, they are up significantly from this time last year. Transportation costs continue to be a factor in higher retail food prices that are passed on to consumers.”

Arkansas food prices continue to remain more affordable than elsewhere. American Farm Bureau’s national survey revealed an average cost of $49.20 to prepare the meal, $4 higher than in Arkansas.

Arkansas Farm Bureau has surveyed the cost of items included in the meal for the past 26 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 less than $5 per person is remarkable.

“There’s no escaping the fact higher energy costs and grain prices have led to higher retail food prices,” said Veach. “However, most Americans may still enjoy   the Thanksgiving dinner with their families for less than five dollars a person. That is a testament to the efficiency of our nation’s farmers and food production system.

“We never know what conditions we will have to plant and harvest in,” Veach said. “This year we had flooding in the spring, then extreme heat and severe drought during the summer. Despite this, because we have such a bountiful food supply, charitable organizations will share countless meals with the less fortunate in their communities. In this economic climate that is truly reason to give thanks.”

The average price of a 16-pound young tom turkey this year is $17.75 or $1.11 cents per pound, up 26 cents per pound from last year. Turkey prices are higher nationwide. American Farm Bureau reported an average of $1.35 per pound or $21.57 for a 16-pound bird. Justice says there are several reasons for the increase.

“Domestic and foreign demand for turkey meat is strong with exports up 13 percent,” Justice said. “Tight supplies and strong demand for corn used for poultry feed is a factor, and the survey was conducted the first week of November. Some retailers may not have discounted their frozen turkey yet, which is a common practice to generate traffic in their stores before the holiday.”

Dairy prices are also higher with a gallon of whole milk up 61 cents to $4.10, while a ½-pint carton of whipping cream is 14 cents higher than last year at $1.75. That trend is consistent with the national survey. Strong demand for milk products and transportation costs are said to be the primary reasons for the increase.

Other items on the list that saw price increases include pumpkin pie mix, up 35 cents; a package of two frozen pie shells, up 20 cents; a 12-count package of brown and serve rolls up 24 cents; a 16-ounce package of green peas up 46 cents; and a pound of carrots, up five cents. Average prices for cubed stuffing, sweet potatoes, a bunch of celery and cranberries all saw modest decreases this year. Individual totals ranged from a low of $37.07 in Clinton, to $53.35 in McCrory.

The survey period was Oct. 28 - Nov. 7. 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

Cara Parker of Carlisle and Scott Hitchings, manager of the Mayflower Supermarket in Carlisle, check the price of a 16-pound young tom turkey Nov. 4. Parker, a member of the Arkansas Farm Bureau women's committee, was reporting turkey prices as part of ArFB's annual survey of the cost of the traditional holiday feast. Overall, higher costs for turkey and a gallon of whole milk led a increase of $5.50 in the cost of the meal to $45.11. Last year the statewide average was $39.61 to feed a family of 10.



Click Photo for High Resolution Version

Click Photo for High Resolution Version

Cara Parker of Carlisle records the price of whole milk at the Mayflower Supermarket as part of Arkansas Farm Bureau's annual survey of the cost of the traditional Thanksgiving feast. Parker is a member of Farm Bureau's state women's committee which conducted the survey Oct. 28-Nov. 7 in local grocery stores across the state. The average price for a gallon of whole milk was $4.10, up 61 cents from last year's average of $3.49.



Click Photo for High Resolution Version

Click Photo for High Resolution Version

The average price of a 16-pound frozen Young Tom Turkey increased this year to $1.11 per pound according to Arkansas Farm Bureau's annual survey of the cost of the holiday meal. That's up 26 cents per pound from an average of 85 cents per pound in 2010. This year it will cost, on average, $45.11 or about $4.50 per person, to feed a family of ten the traditional Thanksgiving feast.



2011 Thanksgiving Dinner Survey Items and Avg. Prices




16 lb. Tom Turkey

         $17.75 (1.11/lb)

            $13.60 (.85/lb)

Cubed Stuffing (Herb Seasoning)



Libby’s Pumpkin Pie Mix (30 oz)



9” Frozen Pie Shells (2)



Sweet Potatoes (3 lbs)

           2.50 (.83/lb)

            2.85 (.95/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
2011 – $45.11
2010 – $39.61
2009 – $40.75
2008 – $40.97
2007 – $39.13

Individual Surveys (11)


$ 37.07

Ash Flat

$ 39.79

Hot Springs

$ 41.51


$ 43.77


$ 44.37


$ 44.52


$ 46.05


 $ 47.51


$ 48.52

West Memphis

$ 49.74


$ 53.35

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. 28 – Nov. 7.

Arkansas Farm Bureau is a nonprofit, private advocacy organization of more than 210,000 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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