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Thanksgiving dinner costs less
Despite high wholesale costs of turkey
thanksgiving graphic 2015

The cost of a traditional Thanksgiving dinner will be down slightly from last year according to the Wisconsin Farm Bureau’s annual look at the price of a Thanksgiving dinner for 10 people. The informal survey found the cost of traditional items like turkey, cubed stuffing, cranberries and pumpkin pie was 1.5 percent less than last year.

“Even with reduced supplies of turkey due to last spring’s avian influenza outbreak and the historically high wholesale turkey prices that followed, grocers and restaurants are reluctant to pass those increases on to consumers,” said Casey Langan, Wisconsin Farm Bureau’s spokesman. “The average price of turkey in Wisconsin was unchanged from last year’s survey, despite a volatile year for the turkey business.”

“The survey’s total price of $50.08, when divided by 10, shows preparing a nutritious, home-cooked Thanksgiving meal costs about $5 per person,” Langan said. “A wholesome family feast is still a better deal than a trip through the drive-thru.”

The American Farm Bureau Federation’s national survey of the same items (turkey, cubed 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 10 people) averaged $50.11, just 3 cents more than Wisconsin’s price.

“With the average turkey price unchanged since 2014, and many other items with slight increases, lower dairy prices balanced the survey’s overall average,” Langan said. “2015 has not been a banner year for the prices received by Wisconsin’s dairy farmers.”

The survey reflected the lower prices received for milk, with the average price of a gallon of whole milk decreasing 17.5 percent (from $4.04 to $3.33) from last year.

“Regardless of what the wholesale price of turkey is in any given year, grocers typically feature turkey in special sales and promotions leading up to Thanksgiving,” Langan said. “Savvy shoppers can always find a bargain for turkey and this year is no exception. Despite what some headlines might lead consumers to believe, turkey remains an affordable source of protein.”

In recent years Americans, who lead the world in turkey consumption, purchase about 46 million turkeys at Thanksgiving; however, turkey’s popularity expands beyond our borders. Mexico buys more than one-half of its turkeys from the U.S. annually, making it the leading foreign customer. Other top importers of U.S. turkeys have traditionally included China, Hong Kong, Canada and the Dominican Republic.

Wisconsin’s average price for a 16-pound turkey was $22.40 in 2013. It increased 96 cents to $23.36 in 2014 and remained at that price in 2015.

Members of the Wisconsin Farm Bureau collected price samples of 12 Thanksgiving food items in Elroy, Richland Center and 34 other communities in October and November.