Thanksgiving dinner costs more this year Price of meal rises 6.8%, led by increases for turkey, milk

November 26, 1996|By Ted Shelsby | Ted Shelsby,SUN STAFF

Call it the revenge of the turkey -- prices are up this year on just about all of the ingredients of the traditional Thanksgiving dinner.

But the rise -- 7.7 percent on the price of turkey -- probably won't be enough to make many cooks switch to Spam.

It's enough to cause more than a slight case of indigestion: The traditional Thanksgiving dinner -- turkey, cranberries, pumpkin pie and all the trimmings -- has risen 6.8 percent this year. That's more than twice the overall rate of price increases as measured by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

According to a survey by the American Farm Bureau Federation, this year's traditional holiday feast for 10 people will cost $31.66, an increase of $2.02 since last year.

That glass of milk is a big culprit. A gallon of whole milk cost $2.29 last year. It has since risen 13.5 percent to $2.60 a gallon.

Maureen Greene, a regional economist with the Bureau of Labor Statistics office in Philadelphia, pointed out that only the cost of heating a home -- up 18.4 percent -- has risen more than the price of milk.

Driving to dinner, she said, will also cost more this year. Gasoline prices are up 7.3 percent.

Ten of the 12 items on the Farm Bureau's dinner shopping list rose in price this year: canned pumpkin pie mix, whipping cream, celery, carrots, sweet potatoes, frozen pie shells, brown-and-serve rolls and fresh cranberries.

Budget-conscious diners shouldn't feel guilty about a second serving of stuffing. It's the only item on the menu that cost less this year.

A 14-ounce package of cubed stuffing cost $2.27, down 12 cents from last year.

Frozen peas cost the same as 1995.

"A number of factors, including the increased cost of production, a shift in consumer demand for whole turkey and the processors' whole-turkey price strategy has led to the rise in turkey prices at the supermarket," said Mark Jenner, an economist with the Farm Bureau, the nation's largest farm organization.

Pub Date: 11/26/96

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