LITTLE ROCK — It will cost families only one cent more on average to prepare the traditional Thanksgiving meal this year, due largely to a stabilizing of prices for frozen turkey and a gallon of whole milk.
According to Arkansas Farm Bureau’s 27th annual survey, it will cost $45.12 for a family of 10, or $4.50 per person to enjoy the feast. Last year’s average was $45.11.
The statewide average is based on responses from members of the Farm Bureau Women’s Committee and other volunteers who surveyed food prices at nine grocery stores and supermarkets across the state.
They were asked to report the “best in-store price” of 12 items included in the meal. They are allowed to take advantage of advertised specials, excluding discount coupons and purchase requirements.
Arkansas food prices continue to remain more affordable than elsewhere. American Farm Bureau’s national survey revealed an average cost of $49.48 to prepare the meal.
Arkansas Farm Bureau President Randy Veach says the fact Arkansans may still prepare and enjoy the meal for less than $5 per person is remarkable.
“The fact the cost of the traditional Thanksgiving dinner is essentially the same as last year is a testament to the efficiencies of our food production system,” said Veach. “American farmers and ranchers endured severe drought and high fuel costs again this year, yet because of their reliance on the latest research and technology food prices for consumers have only seen modest increases.
“Because we have such a bountiful food supply, American families will be able to enjoy this meal. That is truly reason to give thanks.”
Though unscientific, the survey is intended to be a gauge of actual price trends across Arkansas and the nation. The survey period was Oct. 26 - Nov. 5. The shopping list has remained unchanged since 1986 to allow consistent price comparisons.
“The stability of turkey and milk prices compared to a year ago, are the driving forces behind keeping the cost of this year’s meal virtually unchanged,” said Travis Justice, Arkansas Farm Bureau chief economist.
“Despite the production challenges created by the drought, turkey supplies are plentiful (up about 5 percent from a year ago), and the dairy industry, while facing consolidation in farm numbers, continues to make gains in per farm and per cow productivity.”
After rising 21 cents per pound a year ago, the average price of a 16-pound young tom turkey this year increased only 10 cents to $17.85 or $1.12 cents per pound.
Turkey prices are slightly higher nationwide. American Farm Bureau reported an average of $1.39 per pound or $22.23.
Another major driver of the survey is the cost of a gallon of whole milk. During the two-year period of 2010 - 2011 the average price increased almost a dollar, from $3.19 to $4.10. This year the increase was a modest two cents to $4.12. In contrast, a ½-pint carton of whipping cream is 46 cents higher at $2.21.
Other items on the list that saw price increases include three pounds of sweet potatoes, up 22 cents; a 12-count package of brown and serve rolls up 14 cents; and a 12-ounce package of cranberries up 12 cents. A group of miscellaneous items including coffee and items needed to prepare the meal increased eight cents
to $3.18. Average prices for cubed stuffing, pumpkin pie mix, a two-count package of frozen pie shells, frozen green peas, a bunch of celery and a pound of carrots all decreased in price this year. Individual totals ranged from a low of $40.30 in Batesville, to $51.39 in Waldron.
Arkansas Farm Bureau is a nonprofit, private advocacy organization of more than 200,000 families throughout the state working to improve farm and rural life.