As Americans prepare for Thanksgiving, they’ll see some relief in food prices for their Thanksgiving dinner. In the American Farm Bureau Federation’s 38th annual Thanksgiving dinner survey, we find that this year’s classic Thanksgiving feast for 10 will be $61.17, or approximately $6.12 per guest. This represents a 4.5% decline from historically high prices last year, driven by a decline in the price of the Thanksgiving dinner centerpiece – the turkey. Despite the year-over-year relief, the cost is still 25% higher compared to 2019, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The AFBF market-basket survey includes responses from all 50 states and Puerto Rico collected between Nov. 1-6, mostly consisting of “volunteer shoppers” (members checking prices) visiting their local grocery stores to survey prices of the various items used to prepare a classic Thanksgiving feast. As part of the survey tradition dating back to 1986, volunteers collect price data on turkey, cubed stuffing, sweet potatoes, dinner rolls, frozen peas, fresh cranberries, celery, carrots, pumpkin pie mix, pie shells, whipping cream, and whole milk. To reflect an expanded Thanksgiving table, data on boneless ham, Russet potatoes, and frozen green beans is also collected. When including the additional items, the cost of a Thanksgiving meal rose to $84.75 or $8.48 per person.

In the classic basket, seven of the eleven surveyed items saw a price decrease since last year, including turkey, cubed stuffing, frozen peas, cranberries, pie shells, whipping cream, and whole milk. The price of four items rose in price year-over-year – the relish tray (a mix of fresh celery and carrots), sweet potatoes, dinner rolls, and pumpkin pie mix.

Over the past two decades, the turkey has accounted for an average of 43% of the price of the Thanksgiving dinner according to the AFBF survey, with a slight increase over time. In 2023, a 16-pound frozen whole turkey accounts for 45% of the classic Thanksgiving basket at $27.35, a 5.6% decrease from 2022. The breakdown of the cost of turkey as compared to the other foods in the classic basket is illustrated in Figure 1.

Given its prominence, the turkey is the true driver of Thanksgiving dinner prices. This year’s drop in turkey prices is attributable to a decrease in avian influenza cases and the resulting recovery in the turkey flock, as explored in a recent Market Intel. 

Article provided by American Farm Bureau Federation