America just celebrated Thanksgiving! While a time for family and food, Thanksgiving also marks the start of the holiday spending season and a boost to the US economy. Thanksgiving itself is the most traveled holiday of the year, where AAA expected 43.6 million Americans to travel 50 miles or more for the weekend with 3.1 million of those traveling by air to their holiday destination. Even with the slow economy, the National Retail Federation projected 147 million shoppers to turn out for Black Friday.
Fortunately, for consumers, the price of a Thanksgiving dinner didn't increase much in the last year. Despite drought across much of America's farmland, the annual American Farm Bureau Federation's informal price survey of 155 volunteer shoppers across 35 states expected the cost of Thanksgiving for a family of 10 to be $49.48 compared to last years $49.20. Shoppers looked for the cheapest prices without using promotions or coupons. The following table highlights the price differences from last year.
While not a formal comparison, at The Food Industry Center we were curious about the price premium on an organic Thanksgiving meal compared to a conventional Thanksgiving. I went to a local organic and natural food store and a conventional grocery store in St. Paul to record comparable prices of the items in the Farm Bureau survey. I followed the same method, looking for the cheapest priced product without the use of coupons and chose grocery stores as close to each other as possible.
The prices from the conventional grocer were quite close to the estimates from the American Farm Bureau Federation. If we assume the relish tray and the miscellaneous ingredients to be the same price as the Farm Bureau estimates, the conventional grocery price was $51.94, just over the AFBF estimates. Under the same assumptions the organic Thanksgiving dinner had a premium, coming in at $99.31, almost 2 times the price of the conventional grocer. For the most part on items such as peas, pumpkin pie, and dairy products, the prices were very similar. The organic premiums came from only a few items. The organic rolls and cranberries were both two times more expensive than the conventional ones. The organic turkey is where the price of an organic Thanksgiving really hits at a whopping $63.84 ($3.99/lb) for a 16 lb turkey compared to the price of $1.49/lb for a conventional turkey.
We hope everyone had a great Turkey Day, and wish safe travels for your trip home!