Your wallet may indicate otherwise, but according to the American Farm Bureau Federation, for the first time since 2009 and only the second time in the past decade, the cost of feeding a family of ten a “traditional” Thanksgiving dinner went down this year. The decrease is minimal, less than .9% percent (from $49.48 last year to $49.04 this year) but a decrease nonetheless.
The price of the bird went down 3 cents per pound this year to $1.36 (or $21.76 for a 16 pound turkey). Dinner rolls, peas and stuffing all decreased as well. Although the decreases were modest, it was enough to offset other ingredients, like milk, pumpkin pie and sweet potatoes, that all went up.
The survey, while informal, tracks fairly closely (but not exactly) to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) for the past 12 months.
According to BLS, from September 2012 through September 2013, the “all-items” consumer price index (CPI) increased 1.2% (unadjusted). The food index was slightly higher with a 1.4% increase but the food at home index rose by just 1.0% (eating out increased by 1.9%).
The BLS release doesn’t break prices down into each component of the dinner like the Farm Bureau does, but the unadjusted increase of 1% for in-home food should reflect what consumers are actually paying for groceries as a whole over last year. This is what your wallet likely reflects for everyday purchases.
As for Thanksgiving dinner, the Farm Bureau’s menu has remained constant since it began tracking these prices in 1986 so it’s a pretty good indicator of the “Turkey Dinner Index” (TDI), which has increased 72.7% in the past 20 years (37.4% in the past 10 years).
Last year’s TDI was up just over half a percent but two years ago (2011) the TDI jumped over 13%. So, fear not, go buy that turkey… but don’t eat too much.