Cost of Thanksgiving meal climbs in Virginia

Published 2:40 pm Wednesday, November 23, 2022

In a year when inflation has driven up prices of nearly all consumer goods, the price of a Thanksgiving meal also is trending upward.

According to an informal survey conducted by the Virginia Farm Bureau Federation, the average cost to prepare a traditional Thanksgiving meal for 10 adults is $73.91, or $7.39 per person. The survey’s menu consists of turkey, ham, stuffing, sweet potatoes, russet potatoes, rolls, carrots, celery, cranberries, green beans, peas, milk and pumpkin pie with whipped cream. A meal without ham, russet potatoes and green beans costs $57.63, or $5.76 per person.

This year’s statewide average increased by $10.25 — 16.1% — from the 2021 average of $63.66 for a 10-person meal. Prices reported by volunteer shoppers around the state do not reflect discounts from promotional sales or coupons, and survey data was collected before most major sales took place.

The survey data was relatively consistent with current Consumer Price Index trends, which reveal shoppers are seeing a 12.4% increase in the cost for food-at-home purchases versus this time last year.

“Virginia’s farmers continue to work diligently throughout the year to put food on our tables, which is no small feat considering the challenges they’ve faced over the last several years,” said Elijah Griles, VFBF commodity specialist.

“Most of us don’t think of farmers while we’re at the grocery store, but farmers also feel the effects of rising costs at home,” he continued. “This year, much like every year, Virginia farmers really deserve our thanks for honoring their commitment to produce safe and reliable food for Virginia, the United State and the rest of the world.”

This is the 19th year Virginia Farm Bureau has conducted the survey, which is based on an annual survey organized by American Farm Bureau Federation. Volunteer shoppers checked prices online and in person at 28 grocery stores throughout the state.

THE NUMBERS GO UP

The VFBF survey showed the average cost of a 16-pound turkey was $28.09, or $1.76 per pound. This represents a 12.1% increase in price versus the 2021 average of $1.57 per pound.

In all, Farm Bureau discovered the average price for a 4-pound bone-in ham was $10.24; a gallon of whole milk was $3.67; frozen peas, $1.60; frozen green beans, $1.67; three pounds of sweet potatoes, $3.12; a 5-pound bag of russet potatoes, $4.37; fresh celery, $1.81; fresh carrots, $1.06; two pie shells, $3.33; whipping cream, $2.26; canned pumpkin pie filling, $3.68; fresh cranberries, $2.28; stuffing mix, $3.13; and a dozen dinner rolls, $3.62.

All items increased in price versus 2021 values except for cranberries, which were found to be 2 cents cheaper this year.

The locality with the highest average cost for a traditional Thanksgiving meal was Henrico County at $90.51. The locality with the lowest average cost was Carroll County at $55.79 for a 10-person meal.

With costs rising so sharply this year, farming organizations such as AFBF and VFBF recognize the average price for a traditional Thanksgiving meal may be prohibitive for some families.

“We never want to see anyone struggling to afford meals, much less during the holiday season,” said VFBF President Wayne F. Pryor. “As we come together to celebrate Virginia’s agricultural bounty at Thanksgiving, let’s not forget about our neighbors in need.

“Farmers are as committed to serving their communities as they are to producing food for a growing global population, and many Virginia producers donate fresh foods to their local food banks and other hunger-relief organizations,” Pryor added. “I’m hopeful many other generous Virginians will follow their example.”

NATIONAL NUMBERS ALSO CLIMB

Nationally, American Farm Bureau Federation’s survey found the average cost of a Thanksgiving meal for 10 was $64.05, a 20% increase from $53.31 in 2021. The basic AFBF survey does not include ham, russet potatoes and green beans. With these items included in the AFBF findings, the national average cost for a traditional meal was $81.30, 10% higher than the cost in Virginia.

Roger Cryan, chief economist for AFBF, noted “general inflation slashing the purchasing power of consumers” contributed heavily to the increase in the cost of Thanksgiving dinners.

Turkey prices were up 21% nationally to $28.96 for a 16-pound bird, or $1.81 per pound, about 4% higher than prices recorded in Virginia. Overall, the item with the largest price increase was the 14-ounce bag of cubed stuffing mix, which rose from $2.29 in 2021 to $3.88 this year, a 69% jump.

AFBF also reported that volunteer shoppers checked prices Oct. 18-31, about two weeks before most grocery store chains began featuring whole frozen turkeys at sharply lower prices. Details about the AFBF survey findings are available at fb.org/newsroom.