Thanksgiving dinner got cheaper this year — but costs still way up

Thanksgiving dinner is less expensive this year than last, but costs are still way up from just a few years ago, per the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF).

The group found that “this year’s classic Thanksgiving feast” for 10 people will cost approximately $6.12 per guest or $61.17 total. That’s a decline from the “historically high prices” from last year, it noted.

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In 2022, the price was $64.05 total, up more than $10 in 2021, when it was $53.31. This year’s decline is largely due to turkeys being less expensive this year, the report noted.

Despite the price drop this year, costs are still 25 percent higher than they were in 2019 ($48.91) before the COVID-19 pandemic. Prices in 2022 were the highest in the survey’s history. After last year’s record-high prices, several companies have taken steps to help with this year’s shopping.

Beginning Nov. 1, Walmart will offer two meal options for Thanksgiving, which is part of its goal to “remove inflation” from this year’s Thanksgiving dinner. The company said many food items will be cheaper this year than last year.

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Aldi, which recently announced it would acquire Winn-Dixie, said it would cut prices on more than 70 holiday food items. Aldi’s price reductions will last through the end of the year, with Walmart’s to last until Dec. 26.

The nationwide survey used volunteer shoppers to visit local grocery stores to survey the prices of various items used in popular Thanksgiving dinner recipes.

The annual survey dates back to 1986 when volunteers checked the prices on “turkey, cubed stuffing, sweet potatoes, dinner rolls, frozen peas, fresh cranberries, celery, carrots, pumpkin pie mix, pie shells, whipping cream and whole milk.”

Seven out of the 11 items saw prices fall from last year. The price of several items rose since 2022, including celery and carrots, sweet potatoes, dinner rolls and pumpkin pie mix, the report found.

The most expensive item — the turkey — saw a 5.6 percent price drop from 2022.

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“Given its prominence, the turkey is the true driver of Thanksgiving dinner prices,” the report said. “This year’s drop in turkey prices is attributable to a decrease of avian influenza cases and the resulting recovery in the turkey flock.”

The report found dinner rolls saw one of the larges price increases — which the authors noted lined up with the latest July 4 trends.

“Interestingly, the AFBF July 4th Cookout survey similarly had hamburger buns with its largest annual price increase,” the report said. “Of products surveyed, dinner rolls are the most likely to be prepared in-store, and thus could be impacted by sustained increases in wages due to a tight labor market.”

Looking at costs by region, the Northeast saw the highest prices, with an average dinner costing $64.38 total compared to $58.66 in the Midwest.

“Although survey prices have begun to come down, food price inflation remains a real issue and serves as a constraint on the budget of all U.S. consumers,” the federation said.

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