Virginians’ Thanksgiving meal costs drop 80 cents, survey finds
November 01, 2012
RICHMOND—Virginians will be able to feed their families a Thanksgiving meal for a little more than $4.72 per person this year, according to an informal price survey conducted by the Virginia Farm Bureau Federation.
The survey of the prices of basic items found on Virginians’ Thanksgiving tables places the average cost of a traditional meal for 10 adults at $47.23. The menu includes turkey, dressing, sweet potatoes, rolls, peas, cranberries, a relish tray of carrots and celery, and pumpkin pie with whipped cream. Prices were reported using no promotional sales or coupons.
VFBF reports this year’s average represents a price decrease of 80 cents from the 2011 average total price.
The locality surveyed that had the highest average cost for a meal was Chesapeake at $55.86. The locality with the lowest average cost was Middlesex County at $39.22.
“Consumers are being told that food prices are rising, that the drought of 2012 will be the cause of higher grocery costs,” said Jonah Bowles, VFBF agriculture market analyst. “Livestock and dairy prices are higher than in 2011, but the marketbasket does not necessarily reflect that. Those associated food item prices are steady to lower than last year.
“Shopping for deals will make a greater difference to consumers than the agricultural commodity prices, as we are seeing a wide range of prices that are available.”
Based on surveys of grocery stores throughout Virginia, Farm Bureau found the average cost of a 16-pound turkey was $22.08 or $1.38 per pound. Consumers paid an average of $1.34 per pound last year.
The organization found that the average price for a gallon of milk was $3.89; for peas, $1.47; for a 3-pound bag of sweet potatoes, $2.37; for celery, $1.66; for carrots, $1.07; for pie shells, $2.26; for whipping cream, $2.01; for canned pumpkin pie filling, $3; for cranberries, $2.10; for stuffing mix, $2.94; and for rolls, $2.38 a dozen.
According to the American Farm Bureau Federation, farmers and ranchers receive 16 cents out of every dollar U.S. shoppers spend on food. The rest goes for costs beyond the farm gate: processing, marketing, transportation and distribution. In 1980, farmers and ranchers received 31 cents from the U.S. consumer food dollar.
Using that percentage across the board, the farmers’ share of the average Thanksgiving meal cost in Virginia would be $7.56 this year.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture reports that Americans spend an average of 9.4 percent of their disposable annual income on food—the lowest average of any developed country in the world.
Contact Bowles at 804-290-1117 or Sherri McKinney, VFBF communications, at 804-290-1148.