Survey: Thanksgiving in WI will cost less

NEWS RELEASE FROM: Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation

MADISON – While a strong demand still exists for turkey, the cost of a traditional Thanksgiving dinner for Wisconsin shoppers is down slightly this year.

That’s the finding of Wisconsin Farm Bureau’s annual Thanksgiving price survey of traditional items like turkey, cube stuffing, cranberries and pumpkin pie for a family of 10. This year’s average price of $48.88 marked a decrease of $1.29 (2.6 percent) from last year.

“When that total is divided by 10, it shows that the cost to prepare a nutritious, home-cooked Thanksgiving meal is $4.88. That’s still a bargain no matter which way you slice the turkey,” said Casey Langan, Wisconsin Farm Bureau spokesman. “Basically a wholesome family feast remains a better deal than a trip through the drive-thru.”

The American Farm Bureau Federation’s national survey of the same items (turkey, bread stuffing, sweet potatoes, rolls with butter, peas, cranberries, a relish tray of carrots and celery, pumpkin pie with whipped cream, and beverages of milk and coffee, all in quantities sufficient to serve a family of 10) averaged slightly more at $49.48.

“The amount of turkey in cold storage last year was at a historic low. That drove turkey prices higher and caused the survey’s total price to spike,” Langan said. “This year we’ve seen prices stabilize.”

Wisconsin’s average price for a 16-pound turkey came in at $22.72, which is slightly more than the $22.23 national average for 2012, but 48 cents less than last year’s average Wisconsin price.

“Turkeys are typically featured in special sales and promotions close to Thanksgiving,” Langan said. “While our survey was conducted in October, those shoppers who wait until the days before Thanksgiving to buy their bird will likely get a bargain.”

The turkey aside, other items more affordable in Wisconsin were whipping cream, rolls, sweet potatoes, green peas, pie shells and carrots and celery for a relish tray. The items that rang up more expensive in Wisconsin than the national average were cube stuffing, whole milk, fresh cranberries and pumpkin pie mix.

The $48.88 price for the family feast in America’s Dairyland was 60 cents (1.2 percent) lower than the national average of $49.48.

“A trend of strong demand for U.S. turkey both here and abroad has continued over the past decade,” Langan said.

Americans will consume nearly 46 million turkeys this Thanksgiving, and lead the world in annual turkey consumption.

However, turkey’s popularity expands beyond our borders. Mexico and China are expected to lead the turkey export market. Mexico buys about 60 percent of its turkeys from the U.S. annually, making it the leading foreign customer. Rounding out the list of top importers of U.S. turkeys are China, Hong Kong, Canada and the Dominican Republic.

Over the last three decades retail grocery prices have gradually increased while the share of the average dollar spent on food that farm families receive has dropped. In the mid-1970s, farmers received about one-third of consumer retail food expenditures in grocery stores and restaurants. Since then that figure has decreased steadily and is now about 16 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s revised Food Dollar Series. Using that percentage across the board, the farmer’s share of this year’s $48.88 Thanksgiving meal would be $7.82.

“From the potatoes to turkey to cranberries, Wisconsin’s farm families are proud to produce much of the food that is the centerpiece of most Thanksgiving celebrations,” Langan said. “During this holiday season, Farm Bureau is encouraging farmers to reach out to consumers in-person or through social media, to answer questions about the food they grow or the livestock and poultry they raise.”

The U.S. Department of Agriculture says Americans will spend approximately 10 percent of their disposable annual income on food this year, the lowest average in the world.

The stabilized price in the survey’s average price is similar to the prices seen in the Wisconsin Farm Bureau’s quarterly survey of 16 basic food items. The survey of 2012’s third quarter survey (July through September) showed 1.4 percent decrease from the previous three months.

The Thanksgiving price survey is an annual look at the trends in food prices in Wisconsin in relation to changing farm prices, weather and wholesale and retail food marketing. Members of the Wisconsin Farm Bureau collected price samples of 12 Thanksgiving food items in 31 communities in October.

Farm Bureau volunteer shoppers are asked to look for the best possible prices, without taking advantage of special promotional coupons or purchase deals. While Farm Bureau does not make any scientific claims about the data, it is an informal gauge of price trends.

Wis. 2011 Wis. 2012 National 2012

Turkey, 16 lbs. 23.20 22.72 22.23
Milk, 1 gallon whole 3.61 3.61 3.59
Cream, half pint 1.60 1.50 1.83
Rolls, 12 1.98 1.93 2.33
Relish tray (1 lb. carrots-celery) .65 .68 .76
Fresh cranberries, 12 oz. 2.63 2.51 2.45
Pumpkin pie mix, 30 oz. 3.01 3.05 3.02
Pie shells (2) 2.34 2.25 2.51
Cube stuffing, 14 oz. 3.03 2.84 2.77
Sweet potatoes, 3 lbs. 3.39 3.03 3.15
Green peas, 1 lb. 1.63 1.58 1.66
Misc. ingredients 3.10 3.18 3.18

TOTAL $50.17 $48.88 $49.48

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The Thanksgiving price survey is an informal measure of prices at grocery stores in Wisconsin. The prices reported reflect variations in communities and retailers. The prices reported are not validated by any outside source. Prices were collected for this survey in the communities of Appleton, Ashland, Beloit, Casco, Darboy, De Pere, Delavan, Eau Claire, Edgerton, Fitchburg, Fond du Lac, Green Bay, Hillsboro, Lancaster, Madison, Manitowoc, Marshfield, Menomonie, New London, Plover, Racine, Rice Lake, Richland Center, Saukville, Shawano, Sparta, St. Croix Falls, Waterford, Watertown, West Allis and West Bend.

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