October 1, 2014

Turkey dinner for ten still under $50

The Farm Bureau’s annual Thanksgiving Day dinner survey finds the cost for a bird and all the extras has gone up one percent compared to last year. Iowa Farm Bureau research director, Dave Miller, says you can expect to shell out an average of $49.48 cents to feed 10 people.

“That includes a 16-pound turkey, a dozen rolls, pumpkin pie, sweet potatoes, peas, a very good basic Thanksgiving feast,” according to Miller. “The biggest cost increase this year came in the cost of the turkey, it was up about 66 cents compared to a year ago. The biggest decrease actually came in dairy products. Whipped cream and milk were down from a year ago.”

Miller says the price of corn and soybeans impacted the feed costs for turkey. He says the widespread drought had corn prices about 25-percent higher and soybean meal was up about 20-percent.

“Those costs are beginning to be felt by turkey producers and they started adjusting production downward. That has resulted in a very slight increase in the cost of turkey,” Miller says. “A couple of months ago we were actually producing slightly more turkey than a year ago, and prices were actually slightly less than a year ago.”

Miller says when it comes to the people who grow the products for the meal, turkey producers probably receive between 50 and 60-percent of the cost paid by the consumer for the bird. “The milk also, probably in the 50 to 60-percent of the (cost) of that gallon of milk will end up at the farm level. When you move to something like the rolls — you are probably talking less than 10-percent of the value ends up at the farmer,” Miller explains.

“The closer the product is to the way it left the farm, the more that is likely to have a higher value going to the farmer.” The final impact of the drought on food prices isn’t yet known, and Miller says it could impact future Thanksgiving dinners.

“If we looked ahead to next year’s Thanksgiving, the key question may be ‘what is the corn price expectation in July or August next year?’, ie:if we have a very good crop, then livestock people will start increasing production again. And it might show up in turkey by Thanksgiving time. It probably won’t show up until 2015 for pork and 2015 for beef production.”

Miller says the $5 a person cost for the Thanksgiving dinner is still a very good bargain for the consumer. Some 150 volunteer shoppers from 35 states, representing every region in the nation, participated in the annual Thanksgiving price shopping survey.

The cost of the dinner has gone up steadily in recent years. Here are some of the recent costs: 2008, $44.610; 2009, $42.91; 2010, $43.47 and 2011, $49.20.