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Illinois Thanksgiving Dinner Costs are Up; Options Remain Abundant

Sticker shock might be part of grocery shopping this holiday season, but don't balk at food prices just yet. Shoppers across the country will have plenty of options as they fill up their carts, and the cost of a Thanksgiving meal remains affordable.

The American Farm Bureau Federation's (AFBF) 36th annual survey indicates the average cost of this year's Thanks giving feast for 10 has risen to $53.31, or less than $6 a person. This is a $6.41 or 14% increase from last year's average of $46.90.

Illinois Farm Bureau members participated as shoppers for the survey. The Illinois cost surveys reflect prices that are slightly higher than the national average, with the cost of a Thanksgiving feast for 10 coming in at $58.15, a $4.84 or 8% increase from the national average.

“As the element of inflation comes into play, consumers can still rest assured that there are bargains to be found in their local grocery stores,” said Illinois Farm Bureau President Richard Guebert Jr. “The food supply is strong, steady and plentiful as Illinois farmers work tirelessly year-round to produce affordable products.”

The shopping list for Farm Bureau’s informal survey includes turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes, rolls with butter, peas, cranberries, a veggie tray, pumpkin pie with whipped cream, and coffee and milk, all in quantities sufficient to serve a family of 10 with plenty for leftovers.

In recognition of changes in Thanksgiving dinner traditions, the Farm Bureau price survey also includes ham, potatoes and frozen green beans. Adding these foods to the classic Thanksgiving menu increased the overall cost by $15.41, to $68.72. This updated basket of foods also increased in price compared to 2020.

In Illinois, the addition of these food items increased the overall cost by $17.37, to $75.52.

“Several factors contributed to the increase in average cost of this year’s Thanksgiving dinner,” said AFBF Senior Economist Veronica Nigh. “These include dramatic disruptions to the U.S. economy and supply chains over the last 20 months; inflationary pressure throughout the economy; difficulty in predicting demand during the COVID-19 pandemic and high global demand for food, particularly meat.” Further, “The trend of consumers cooking and eating at home more often due to the pandemic led to increased supermarket demand and higher retail food prices in 2020 and 2021, compared to pre-pandemic prices in 2019.”

Survey shoppers visited grocery stores across the country in late October to early November in their hunt for Thanksgiving staples. Notably, survey shopping took place in the weeks prior to when many grocery stores began featuring whole frozen turkeys at sharply lower prices. Illinoisans may be able to beat the Illinois average in the week leading up to Thanksgiving by capitalizing on in-store deals and coupons.

Grocers have a large impact on food prices, which vary by region. Yet despite fluctuating costs for consumers, the farmer’s share of the food dollar remains a steady 8%.

“Farmers have produced the food, but the food supply chain has faced its share of challenges within the past couple years, and it is always adjusting to the needs of U.S. consumers,” said Guebert. “It’s important to remember that it takes a lot of hands and a lot of miles to bring the traditional Thanksgiving spread from the farm to the grocery store.”

This year’s national average cost was calculated using 218 surveys completed with pricing data from all 50 states and Puerto Rico. Farm Bureau volunteer shoppers checked prices in person and online using grocery store apps and websites. They looked for the best possible prices without taking advantage of special promotional coupons or purchase deals.

More information and data on the average cost of Thanksgiving dinner can be accessed at this link via the American Farm Bureau.

The AFBF Thanksgiving dinner survey was first conducted in 1986. The informal survey provides a record of comparative holiday meal costs over the years. Farm Bureau’s classic survey menu has remained unchanged since 1986 to allow for consistent price comparisons.

The Illinois Farm Bureau is a member of the American Farm Bureau Federation, a national organization of farmers and ranchers. Founded in 1916, IFB is a non-profit, membership organization directed by farmers who join through their county Farm Bureau. IFB has a total membership of more than 372,326 and a voting membership of 77,462. IFB represents three out of four Illinois farmers.

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