Double-Digit Price Gains for Thanksgiving 2011, Inflation in Turkey & Gas

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Everyone loves the holidays and spending time off with the family (well, almost everyone), but no seems to like it when the cost of the holidays is much higher than just a year before.  While overall inflation in the last year has remained tepid, buying the Thanksgiving dinner is going to be up considerably at the retail level in 2011 if the American Farm Bureau Federation is anywhere close to accurate.  It is not just food that is higher this year.  Gasoline is higher as well. 

A classic Thanksgiving dinner with turkey, stuffing, cranberries, sweet potatoes, rolls with butter, peas, pumpkin pie, and the basic trimmings is going to cost 13% more in 2011 than it did in 2011.  Thirteen Percent! If there was 13% real inflation we’d have real problems.  This was the 26th annual informal price survey of classic Thanksgiving dinner items. 

The average cost for a table of ten this year is expected to have risen by $5.73 total to $49.20.  This sounds huge, but the Farm Bureau said this remains a bargain at under $5.00 per person.  It is also called a better value than fast-food value meals.  If you go back to Thanksgiving of 2000 (table below), the Thanksgiving cost is actually up by more than 50%.  Nice. 

The big jump comes from the turkey, where a 16-pound turkey ran $21.57 or $1.35 per pound.  That is roughly $0.25 per pound more to total $3.91 more for the turkey versus 2010.  Whole milk rose by $0.42 per gallon to $3.66 this year, and the other large increases were in pumpkin pie mix, whipping cream, and green peas, with slightly higher costs in bread stuffing, brown-n-serve rolls, sweet potatoes, and fresh cranberries.

Those items which are said to cost less this year are coffee onions, eggs, sugar, flour, evaporated milk and butter… which would have brought the average down by $3.10 this year of the price hikes were not so large on the other items. 

The citation from the Bureau’s economist John Anderson on why turkey is more expensive this year is “due to strong consumer demand both here in the U.S. and globally” and due to retailers no longer holding their prices down when costs are higher.

Unfortunately, even though gasoline is way down from the peak this last April it is higher today versus a year ago as well.  A national average at Gasbuddy.com showed that the average gallon of unleaded gasoline was under $2.90 around Thanksgiving of 2010 versus $3.45 today with two weeks to go until the big day and with oil getting closer and closer to the $100 per barrel mark again.  If prices at the pump just froze then we have about an 18% gas price bump.

Here ar ethe yearly average projections for classic Thanksgiving dinners going back through time (year averages):

  •  1986 – $28.74
  • 1987 – $24.51
  • 1988 – $26.61
  • 1989 – $24.70
  • 1990 – $28.85
  • 1991 – $25.95
  • 1992 – $26.39
  • 1993 – $27.49
  • 1994 – $28.40
  • 1995 – $29.64
  • 1996 – $31.66
  • 1997 – $31.75
  • 1998 – $33.09
  • 1999 – $33.83
  • 2000 – $32.37
  • 2001 – $35.04
  • 2002 – $34.56
  • 2003 – $36.28
  • 2004 – $35.68
  • 2005 – $36.78
  • 2006 – $38.10
  • 2007 – $42.26
  • 2008 – $44.61
  • 2009 – $42.91
  • 2010 – $43.47
  • 2011 – $49.20

You have to love it when you have gas up nearing 20% and the cost of turkey up over 22%.  Maybe there is a way to do an egg and onion dinner instead of a turkey dinner.  

Also read The Most Prosperous Thanksgivings Since the Great Depression
 
JON C. OGG

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