Thanksgiving dinner cost lowest in five years


“The gallon of milk was lower as milk supplies in the United States continue to grow,” said Newton. It also comes as some East Coast dairy producers are experiencing some of the thinnest profit margins in the past few years.

However, the federation said the price of the pumpkin pie mix was up by 2.6 percent, whipped cream jumped 4 percent and 12 ounces of fresh cranberries went up 1.7 percent. In percentage terms, the highest increase this year was cube stuffing, rising 5.2 percent over 2016 levels.

According to Newton, some of the price movements may be more related to processing costs, including labor and energy expenses. He said things that are more directly farmed to consumers didn’t see a significant price increase in this year.

The survey, which has been conducted annually since 1986, is done by volunteer shoppers around the country and looks at regular-priced items. It doesn’t reflect store coupons or other discounting.

Demand for organic and specialty turkeys has been growing in recent years, but the most popular ones for Thanksgiving remain frozen whole birds.

Last month, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported that the total frozen whole turkeys in cold storage as of Sept. 30 were up about 22 percent from last year. The increase partly reflects a building of supplies in advance of Thanksgiving but also additional supplies that have been produced.

The oversupply of turkey may be good news for consumers, but it has hurt pricing for the major producers of the bird and, in some cases, squeezed margins. Even so, the organic turkeys tend to have stronger pricing than the conventional frozen birds.

“This year overall has been a more challenging year in general,” said Jay Jandrain, COO of Butterball, the nation’s largest supplier of turkeys. He said there’s been “too much supply out there [of turkeys] and an oversupply of protein in general.”

“It’s made for a more competitive environment in general, both because of turkey industry-specific supplies as well as protein in general,” he said.

This year, Butterball is rolling out for the first time an organic whole bird, although Jandrain said it’s a “very small part of the business.”

“As we look at those types of offerings, whether it’s in a whole bird or it’s other types of products that we produce, we’re certainly seeing increased consumer demand for antibiotic-free … in organic products in general,” the COO said. “We’re looking for additional opportunities to meet consumer needs in providing those additional offerings, also.”

Parts of the country may see even lower costs than the national price reported by the federation.

For example. the classic Thanksgiving meal will cost total of $44.74 this year in New York state, down $1.89 or a nearly 10 percent decline from last year, according to the state farm bureau’s survey. That means it will be on average $4.38 cheaper for New Yorkers than the national average price for the meal.

The savings for New Yorkers is evident in the price of 16-pound turkeys, which will cost an average $21.36 in the state, down from $22.20 last year and more than a $1 cheaper than the national average price of $22.38 this year.

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