Turkey Day for 10 costs $2.78 more than last year

Virginians will be able to feed their families a Thanksgiving meal for a little more than $5 per person this year, according to an informal price survey conducted by the Virginia Farm Bureau Federation.

The survey of the price of basic items found on Virginians’ Thanksgiving tables places the average cost of a traditional meal for 10 adults at $50.01. The menu includes turkey, dressing, sweet potatoes, rolls, peas, cranberries, a relish tray of carrots and celery, milk and pumpkin pie with whipped cream. Prices were reported using no promotional sales or coupons.

VFBF reports this year’s average represents an increase of $2.78 above the 2012 average total price.

The locality surveyed that had the highest average cost for a meal was Pittsylvania County at $53.45. The locality with the lowest average cost was Floyd County at $44.10.

“There are two factors that can explain the increase in basket prices from last year — an improving economy for much of the nation and substantially higher livestock prices, which would include turkeys,” said Jonah Bowles, VFBF agriculture market analyst. “The fact that vegetable prices are lower in 2013 was expected due to better growing conditions across the nation.

“The United States has a bountiful supply of food that is distributed through many retailers. This creates an environment in which consumers are able to shop for the best buys for their needs and improves the prospects of them beating the average food basket prices.”

Based on surveys of grocery stores throughout Virginia, Farm Bureau found the average cost of a 16-pound turkey was $24.35 or $1.52 per pound. Consumers paid an average of $1.35 per pound last year.

The organization found that the average price for a gallon of milk was $3.65; for peas, $1.19; for a 3-pound bag of sweet potatoes, $2.80; for celery, $1.72; for carrots, $1.04; for pie shells, $2.01; for whipping cream, $1.64; for canned pumpkin pie filling, $3.12; for cranberries, $2.99; for stuffing mix, $2.91; and for rolls, $2.59 a dozen.

Since VFBF began conducting the survey in 2003, the average cost of a family’s Thanksgiving meal in Virginia has increased by $10.89.

According to the American Farm Bureau Federation, farmers receive only 16 cents out of every dollar Americans spend on food. The rest goes for costs beyond the farm gate: wages and materials for production, processing, marketing, transportation and distribution. In 1980, farmers and ranchers received 31 cents from each consumer food dollar.

Using that percentage across the board, farmers’ share of the average Thanksgiving meal cost in Virginia would be slightly more than $8 this year.

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