Despite slight cost increase, Virginians’ Thanksgiving meal still a bargain

Thanksgiving mealVirginians will be able to feed their families a Thanksgiving meal for about $5.23 per person this year, according to an informal price survey conducted by the Virginia Farm Bureau Federation.

The survey found that the average cost of a traditional meal for 10 adults is $52.30. This is based on a menu of turkey, ham, dressing, sweet potatoes, russet potatoes, rolls, green beans, peas, celery, cranberries, milk and pumpkin pie with whipped cream. Prices were reported by volunteer shoppers using no promotional sales or coupons.

This year’s average represents a $1.76 increase over the 2017 average price of $50.56 for a 10-person meal.

The locality reporting the highest average cost for a meal this year was Spotsylvania County, with $87.28. The lowest average cost was $50.18 in Essex County.

“We are so honored to know that the hard work of our farmers across the nation is helping families count their blessing in an affordable way during their Thanksgiving meal,” said Wilmer Stoneman, VFBF director of agriculture, development and innovation department.

Based on surveys at grocery stores throughout the state, Farm Bureau found the average cost of a 16-pound turkey was $20.64, or a little more than $1.29 per pound, which is less than the average $1.57 Virginians paid per pound last year.

The organization found that the average price for a 4-pound bone-in ham was $7.56; a gallon of milk was $2.99; peas were 90 cents; green beans, 90 cents; a 1-pound bag of sweet potatoes, 98 cents; a 5-pound bag of russet potatoes, $3.17; celery, $1.48; pie shells, $1.50; whipping cream, $1.97; canned pumpkin pie filling, $2.98; cranberries, $2.07; stuffing mix, $2.50; and a dozen rolls were $2.66.

Since VFBF began conducting the survey in 2003, the average cost of a family’s Thanksgiving meal in Virginia has increased by $13.20.

“Our Virginia farmers are committed to providing safe and wholesome food for Americans year-round, keeping it affordable for all to enjoy their meals—not just during Thanksgiving, but every day of the year ahead,” remarked VFBF President Wayne F. Pryor.

Nationally, an informal survey conducted by the American Farm Bureau Federation found the average cost of this year’s meal for 10 to be $48.90, or less than $5 per person. That represents a decrease of less than 1 percent from last year’s national average of $49.12.

Decreases in the average retail price for turkey, sweet potatoes, frozen peas and milk led to the modest drop in the cost of the meal, noted Dr. John Newton, AFBF chief economist. The average cost of a turkey has declined nationally as well, he said.

This is the third consecutive year that the overall price of a Thanksgiving dinner has declined across the U.S. It is the lowest it’s been since 2010.

“Traditionally, Virginia has been slightly higher than the national average basic Thanksgiving meal cost. However, if you can feed your family a meal for under $5.30 per person, then that is a bargain for which we can all be thankful,” Pryor noted.

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