Farm Bureau: Survey shows Thanksgiving dinner cost up 17.25%

Farm Bureau
The centerpiece on most Thanksgiving tables – the turkey – is the driver of the meal’s price increase.

Enjoying Thanksgiving dinner with family and friends is a priority for many Americans, but paying attention to how the meal will impact the budget is also important. Wisconsin Farm Bureau’s 36th annual Marketbasket survey indicates the average cost of this year’s classic Thanksgiving feast for 10 is $71.49, a 17.25% increase from last year's cost of $60.77.

Nationally, the cost of the 10-person feast was $53.31, a $6.41 increase or 14% from last year's average of $46.90.

The Marketbasket survey is an informal look at the price of popular food items used to prepare a Thanksgiving meal in quantities sufficient to serve 10 people. This survey allows for Wisconsin food prices to be compared with food prices from across the country. Comparatively, the American Farm Bureau Federation’s survey of the same items showed a 14% increase over 2020 prices nationally.

“It is no secret that the supply chain has been significantly disrupted in the past year as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Wisconsin Farm Bureau’s Director of Media Relations and Outreach Cassie Sonnentag. “Increased costs from processing to transportation have led to increased food prices, particularly in protein products.”

ABOUT THE SURVEY

Wisconsin’s Thanksgiving Marketbasket survey is an informal, annual review of food price trends in relation to changing farm prices, weather and wholesale and retail food marketing. Wisconsin Farm Bureau members collected price samples of 15 Thanksgiving food items in November.

Farm Bureau volunteer shoppers were asked to look for the best prices, without taking advantage of special promotional coupons or purchase deals.

The centerpiece on most Thanksgiving tables – the turkey – is the driver of the meal’s price increase. Nationally, the price of turkey saw a 25% increase per pound from 2020 to 2021. In Wisconsin, that price saw a 40% jump. In addition to inflation, the price increase can be credited to several causes, including disruption to the supply chain, increased at-home food consumption and demand prediction.

“Several factors contributed to the increase in average cost of this year’s Thanksgiving dinner,” said AFBF Senior Economist Veronica Nigh. “These include dramatic disruptions to the U.S. economy and supply chains over the last 20 months; inflationary pressure throughout the economy; difficulty in predicting demand during the COVID-19 pandemic and high global demand for food, particularly meat,” she explained. Further, “The trend of consumers cooking and eating at home more often due to the pandemic led to increased supermarket demand and higher retail food prices in 2020 and 2021, compared to pre-pandemic prices in 2019.”

Sonnentag said predicting demand has been a challenge this past year.

“There was a 4% decrease in turkey production nationwide largely due to the uncertainty of gatherings due to the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2021," she said. "Turkeys are grown under contracts that are signed well in advance, which drove this year’s production decrease.”

While the price of the Thanksgiving staple remains high, it is important to recognize that grocery store promotions on turkey began significantly later this year.

“It is likely that shoppers will get a better deal on turkey purchases closer to the holiday than survey shoppers did earlier in the month,” said Sonnentag.

The USDA says Americans will spend approximately 10% of their disposable annual income on food, the lowest average in the world.

Nationally, this year's Thanksgiving dinner for ten at a cost of $53.31 is up $6.41 or 14% from last year's average of $46.90.

The shopping list for Farm Bureau’s informal survey includes turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes, rolls with butter, peas, cranberries, a veggie tray, pumpkin pie with whipped cream, and coffee and milk, all in quantities sufficient to serve a family of 10 with plenty for leftovers.

“Taking turkey out of the basket of foods reveals a 6.6% price increase compared to last year, which tracks closely with the Consumer Price Index for food and general inflation across the economy,” said Nigh.

In recognition of changes in Thanksgiving dinner traditions, the Farm Bureau price survey also includes ham, Russet potatoes and frozen green beans, in an expanded holiday menu. Adding these foods to the classic Thanksgiving menu increased the overall cost by $15.41, to $68.72. This updated basket of foods also increased in price (up 14%) compared to 2020.

This year’s national average cost was calculated using 218 surveys completed with pricing data from all 50 states and Puerto Rico. Farm Bureau volunteer shoppers checked prices in person and online using grocery store apps and websites. They looked for the best possible prices without taking advantage of special promotional coupons or purchase deals.

Cost in Selected States

State-specific data on the average cost of Thanksgiving dinner is available from select Farm Bureaus, including Arizona, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, New York, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and Wisconsin.

The AFBF Thanksgiving dinner survey was first conducted in 1986. The informal survey provides a record of comparative holiday meal costs over the years. Farm Bureau’s classic survey menu has remained unchanged since 1986 to allow for consistent price comparisons.

Wisconsin Farm Bureau’s 36th annual Marketbasket survey indicates the average cost of this year’s classic Thanksgiving feast for 10 is $71.49, a 17.25% increase.