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Survey: Thanksgiving Dinner Cheapest It's Been In 5 Years

Courtesy of American Farm Bureau Federation

Shoppers, check your receipts when you buy Thanksgiving dinner ingredients. It’s likely the total cost will be the lower that what you paid in 2013.

American Farm Bureau Federation volunteers scoured stores in 39 states to record prices for traditional Thanksgiving fixings. The survey found that for a party of 10, an average dinner runs $49.12 — 75 cents less than last year.

The primary reason? Turkeys. Lots of them. The commercial turkey flock has recovered from the massive bird flu outbreak to the point that the U.S. Department of Agriculture predicts farmers will produce more than 6 billion pounds of turkey this year. That’s 10 million more than 2016.

In turn, wholesale turkey prices are just under a dollar per pound for the first time since 2013, according to John Newton, the federation’s market intelligence director. Shoppers will be charged an average of $1.40 per pound.

“In addition to that, just the protein complex in general when you're talking about protein or chicken or pork or beef is very competitive this year, Newton says. “So that leads to even more price discounts to consumers.”

Credit Courtesy of American Farm Bureau Federation

Frozen turkeys are up 22 percent compared to last year, Newton says, which has contributed to the turkey glut.

It’s not just cheaper meat, though. Milk, sweet potatoes and rolls are cheaper this year compared to last.

But dessert will cost a little extra, as whipping cream and pumpkin pie mix are up eight cents from last year.

“Fat is back,” Newton says. “(Consumers) are using whipping cream, more full fat dairy products — full-fat yogurt, full-fat sour cream. That’s why we’re seeing whipping cream go up in price.”

Looking forward, Newton anticipates 2018 Thanksgiving prices will be similar to this year unless there are livestock diseases or weather issues.

Follow Kris on Twitter: @krishusted

Copyright 2017 Harvest Public Media

Kristofor Husted is a senior reporter at KBIA in Columbia, Mo. Previously Husted reported for NPR’s Science Desk in Washington and Harvest Public Media. Husted was a 2013 fellow with the Institute for Journalism and Natural Resources and a 2015 fellow for the Institute for Journalism and Justice. He’s won regional and national Edward R. Murrow, PRNDI and Sigma Delta Chi awards. Husted also is an instructor at the Missouri School of Journalism. He received a B.S. in cell biology from UC Davis and an M.S. in journalism from Northwestern University.