Survey: Virginians’ Thanksgiving meal cost decreases for 2016

RICHMOND—Virginians will be able to feed their families a Thanksgiving meal for about $4.40 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 $44.02. 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 a decrease of 50 cents from the 2015 average total.

The locality surveyed that had the highest average cost for the meal was Greene County at $60.82. The locality with the lowest average cost was Northampton County at $31.70.

“We have seen grain prices drop this year, so just about anything associated with grain or that involves energy to produce will be lower this year than last year,” said Emily King, VFBF commodity specialist.

“We are fortunate in this country to have such a bountiful supply of food, and this survey certainly highlights the benefits of shopping for the best deals. It is interesting that our Virginia survey shows prices for turkeys have continued to decrease over the past four years. With grain prices falling this year, that is also making the feed cost less for producers.”

Based on surveys of grocery stores throughout Virginia, Farm Bureau found the average cost of a 16-pound turkey was $18.43 or about $1.15 per pound. Consumers paid an average of $1.18 per pound last year in the commonwealth.

The organization found that the average price for a gallon of milk was $3.32; for peas, $1.77; for a 3-pound bag of sweet potatoes, $2.80; for celery, $1.53; for carrots, $1.31; for pie shells, $2.40; for whipping cream, $2.19; for canned pumpkin pie filling, $3.04; for cranberries, $2.35; for stuffing mix, $2.61; and for rolls, $2.27 a dozen.

Since VFBF began conducting the survey in 2003, the average cost of a family’s Thanksgiving meal in Virginia has increased by $4.90.

VFBF President Wayne F. Pryor said Virginia farmers “are committed to making sure Americans have an abundance of wholesome and affordable food for Thanksgiving Day and every day. And it’s satisfying to know that the affordability of food in our nation helps many, many organizations to share a Thanksgiving meal with people in need. It’s a privilege to support that effort in communities nationwide.”

Nationally, an informal survey conducted by the American Farm Bureau Federation found the average cost of this year’s feast for 10 to be $49.87. That represents a decrease of less than 1 percent from AFBF’s 2015 average. It also tracks closely with the Consumer Price Index. The most recent CPI report for food eaten at home showed a decrease of slightly more than 2 percent over the past year.

According to the AFBF, farmers receive 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.

Using that percentage across the board, farmers’ share of the average Thanksgiving meal cost in Virginia would be slightly more than $7 this year.

Media: Contact King at 804-290-1117 or Sherri McKinney, VFBF communications, at 804-290-1148.

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