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
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
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.