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What Foods Are Making Thanksgiving More Expensive This Year?

November 15, 2011

The cost of a standard American Thanksgiving dinner keeps rising. In 2001, the holiday meal on average cost $35.04. This upcoming holiday, it will be nearly $50. According to a report by the American Farm Bureau Federation, the price of the Thanksgiving feast increased roughly 13 percent from last year alone.

Of course, the main culprit for this increase is the rising cost of the food. While a relish tray decreased in price, all the other foods examined cost more. A 16-pound turkey costs nearly $4, or 22 percent, more than last year. Based on AFBF’s report, researchers at 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the 11 main ingredients of a typical Thanksgiving dinner.

The AFBF’s annual report, its 26th in a row, looks at the traditional foods consumed at an average 10-person Thanksgiving dinner. The price estimates are based on Farm Bureau volunteers from around the country who report the standard food prices without using special coupons or deals.

According to the report, the foods include a 16-pound turkey, a gallon of milk, a 30-ounce can of pumpkin pie mix, a half pint of whipped cream, 14 oz. of cubed stuffing, a pound of green beans, 12 rolls, three pounds of sweet potatoes, 12 ounces of fresh cranberries, 2 pie shells, a 1-pound relish tray (carrots and celery) and various other ingredients.

24/7 wall has examined 11 of the ingredients, looking at how much the United States produces of each of these goods, and how much the prices of the basic food commodities have changed over time.

11. One-Pound Relish Tray (carrots and celery)
2010 price: $0.77
2011 price: $0.76
Price change: -$0.01
Pct. change: -0.01 percent

The relish tray is the only item that declined in price from last year. 68,000 acres of carrots were planted last year, which is less than the two previous years, according to the USDA. Celery planting and harvesting, on the other hand, is up slightly. The price of carrots declined over a three-year period, while the price of celery is up over that same period.

10. Two Pie Shells
2010 price: $2.46
2011 price: $2.52
Price change: $0.06
Pct. change: 2.4 percent

While a homemade pie is always a treat, for most Americans, pre-made pie shells are the standard. Compared to last year, the price of two shells went up by 6 cents, a 2.4 percent increase, which is in line with inflation. In 2010, 91.3 billion eggs were produced in the U.S., up from 90.4 billion in 2009. The U.S. production of wheat, another major ingredient in pie crusts, dropped by approximately 4 million acres between 2010 and 2011, and the price per metric ton increased by roughly 45 percent from last October.

9. Sweet Potatoes, 3 lbs.
2010 price: $3.19
2011 price: $3.26
Price change: $0.07
Pct. change: 2.1 percent

The price of three pounds of sweet potatoes has increased by about 7 cents in the last year. National production of the crop, nearly half of which occurs in the state of North Carolina, jumped from 97,300 acres in 2008 to 116,900 acres in 2010.

8. Fresh Cranberries, 12. oz.
2010 price: $2.41
2011 price: $2.48
Price change: $0.07
Pct. change: 2.9 percent

While the gelatinous substance that comes in the shape of a can is a common Thanksgiving dish, many American families opt for fresh cranberry relish instead. Since last year, the cost of 12 ounces of cranberries has increased by about 7 cents, a 2.9 percent increase. Cranberry production in the past three years has gone up by 585,000 barrels, an 8 percent increase. In 2011, the U.S. produced 7,498,000 barrels of the berries, almost all of which were grown in Massachusetts and Wisconsin.

7. Rolls, 12
2010 price: $2.12
2011 price: $2.30
Price change: $0.18
Pct. change: 8.5 percent

The price of 12 dinner rolls, the staple opening course at many Thanksgiving dinners, has increased substantially in the past year, jumping 8.5 percent to $2.30. The likely culprit is the rising cost of wheat in the United States, which increased by roughly 45 percent per metric ton from last year.

6. Green Peas, 1 lb.
2010 price: $1.44
2011 price: $1.68
Price change: $0.24
Pct. change: 16.6 percent

When it comes to the debt ceiling, the President says America has to eat its peas. The USA Dry Pea & Lentil Council could not agree more. “We take President Obama’s comment on the need to ‘eat our peas’ as a reference to the first lady’s push to get all Americans to eat a more healthy diet as part of the Let’s Move campaign,” the council’s director of marketing told The Los Angeles Times in July. The national production of peas in this country has dropped precipitously in the past three years from 205,400 acres in 2008 to 108,000 acres in 2010 — a drop of almost 20 percent. Yet, the price per ton has fallen from $357 to $278. Consequently, a pound of green peas now costs 16.6 percent more than it did in 2010.

5. Cubed Stuffing, 14 oz.
2010 price: $2.64
2011 price: $2.88
Price change: $0.24
Pct. change: 9.1 percent

Like most traditional Thanksgiving dishes, stuffing, or dressing, comes in many varieties. In the south, they use day old white bread and cornbread mixed with celery, onion and sausage. Other variations even add oysters to the mix. The traditional cubed stuffing usually consists of toasted bread, chicken broth and onions, all of which have increased in price in the past year. Spring onions, in particular, more than doubled in price.

4. Milk, 1 Gallon Whole
2010 price: $3.24
2011 price: $3.66
Price change: $0.42
Pct. change: 12.9 percent

For the kids sitting at the Thanksgiving dinner table, nothing is better than a cool glass of milk. According to the National Dairy Council, “Children ages 2 – 8 are encouraged to consume two cups of milk or equivalent milk products each day, as recommended by the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.” The cost of a gallon of milk is up 12.9 percent from last year.

3. Whipping Cream, 0.5 pints
2010 price: $2.62
2011 price: $3.03
Price change: $0.41
Pct. change: 15.2 percent

No pumpkin pie is complete without a hefty dollop of whipped cream. The price of milk has nearly doubled since 2009. A half-pint of whipping cream, according to the survey, costs $0.41 more than it did last year. That amounts to a 15.2 percent increase.

2. Pumpkin Pie Mix, 30-oz.
2010 price: $2.62
2011 price: $3.03
Price change: $0.41
Pct. change: 15.6 percent

It was a bad season for American-grown pumpkins. Generally damp conditions and terrible storms — including Hurricane Irene a few months ago — have decimated parts of the Northeast’s crop. Partially as a result, the cost of two 15-oz. cans of pumpkin pie mix is up $0.41, more than a 15 percent increase.

1. Turkey, 16-lb.
2010 price: $17.66
2011 price: $21.57
Price change: $3.91
Pct. change: 22.1 percent

According to the USDA, 248 million turkeys were raised in the U.S. this year, 4 million more than last year. The largest percentage of these birds was raised in Minnesota, which produced 46.5 million turkeys this year. Despite the increase in production, the cost of a single 16-pound bird is up by nearly $4, or 22 percent, from 2010.

[via The Blaze]

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