Virginians will be able to feed their families a Thanksgiving meal for a little more than $4.80 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 Americans’ Thanksgiving tables places the average cost of a traditional meal for 10 adults at $48.03. The menu includes turkey, dressing, sweet potatoes, rolls, peas, cranberries, a relish tray of carrots and celery, and pumpkin pie with whipped cream. Prices were reported using no promotional sales or coupons.
VFBF reports this year’s average represents a price increase of $4.46 over the 2010 average total price.
The locality surveyed that had the highest average cost for a meal was Keysville in Charlotte County at $60.59. The locality with the lowest average cost was Ruckersville in Greene County at $39.03.
“It is not surprising that our Thanksgiving basket cost more in 2011 than last year,” said Jonah Bowles, VFBF agriculture market analyst. “Most agricultural prices around the world are much more expensive than in 2010. Add to that a higher transportation expense, and the 11 percent increase over 2010 prices becomes very understandable.
“There are wide variations in prices of each component in the basket. It is to the advantage of the consumer to shop around for the best deals.”
Based on surveys of grocery stores throughout Virginia, Farm Bureau found the average cost of a 16-pound turkey was $21.39 or $1.34 per pound. Consumers paid an average of $1.21 per pound last year.
The organization found that the average price for a gallon of milk was $4.04; for peas, $1.71; for a 3-pound bag of sweet potatoes, $2.84; for celery, $1.68; for carrots, $1.44; for pie shells, $2.40; for whipping cream, $2.01; for canned pumpkin pie filling, $2.73; for cranberries, $2.48; for stuffing mix, $2.90; and for rolls, $2.41 a dozen.
In its recent report, “A Revised and Expanded Food Dollar Series: A Better Understanding of Our Food Costs,” the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service notes that for every dollar Americans spend on food only 11.6 cents—a little more than a dime—goes back to the farms where that food originated.
Using that percentage across the board, the farmers’ share of the average Thanksgiving meal cost in Virginia would be $5.57 this year.
The USDA reports that Americans spend 9.5 percent of their disposable annual income on food—the lowest average of any developed country in the world.
With more than 150,000 members in 88 county Farm Bureaus, VFBF is Virginia’s largest farmers’ advocacy group. Farm Bureau is a non-governmental, nonpartisan, voluntary organization committed to protecting Virginia’s farms and ensuring a safe, fresh and locally grown food supply.