Significant increase in 2007 Thanksgiving meal — Arizona dinner for 10 is $51.14

As Arizonans sit down at the Thanksgiving table to dig into the traditional feast this year, the turkey dinner with all the trimmings will cost $51.14 for an Arizona family of 10, or $5.11 per person. This is an $11.92 increase or 30 percent more than the 2006 Arizona Thanksgiving meal ($39.22), and $8.88 above this year’s national average. The American Farm Bureau’s survey results show a cost of $42.26 for a family of 10.

The cost of a 16-pound turkey purchased in Arizona was $23.04, or $1.44 cents per pound, which reflects a 45 percent increase in the cost of a turkey over last year. Compared to last year’s survey, prices are higher this year for every item except green peas. Turkeys increased .46 cents per pound.

According to Sharla Flake, Farm Bureau member and past county chair of the Women’s Leadership Committee in Snowflake, Ariz., “The cost of food is where you can work the family budget. In other words, I think of ways I can modify my shopping list to save money.”

- Buy store brand items.

- Wait until sales begin before Thanksgiving.

- Ask other family members to bring various side-dishes.

- Use coupons.

The 2007 Arizona Thanksgiving meal cost estimate is the result of the Arizona Farm Bureau’s annual informal Thanksgiving Dinner Price Survey of the prices of basic food items found on the Thanksgiving dinner table.

The Arizona Farm Bureau survey shopping list includes turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes, rolls with butter, peas, cranberries, a relish tray including carrots and celery, pumpkin pie with whipped cream plus coffee and milk, all in quantities sufficient to serve a family of 10. To make a proper comparison, these items are the same food items used in the national Farm Bureau survey.

Since the close of Young’s Farm, Arizona does not have a large-scale, commercial turkey producer in the state, thus transportation and inventory costs must be factored in. “The inventory of birds in cold storage is relatively small this year. This has helped drive up the average retail turkey price,” said Jim Sartwelle, an American Farm Bureau economist. “The tremendous increase in energy costs for transportation and processing over the past year also is a key factor behind higher retail prices at the grocery store.”

“All of the dairy products included in the 2007 survey increased significantly in price over the past year due to skyrocketing world demand,” Sartwelle said.

Arizona farmers and ranchers produce most of the ingredients in the traditional Thanksgiving meal including dressing (bread, onions and celery), peas, pumpkin and pecans for pies, and several others. Even roses, sometimes used for holiday centerpieces, are grown in Arizona.

“Farm and ranch families in Arizona and across the nation take great pride in providing the safest, most abundant and most affordable food supply in the world,” said Arizona Farm Bureau President Kevin Rogers. “As we sit down this Thanksgiving to savor the food bounty, it is appropriate to remember that it all starts on America’s farms and ranches. Arizona agriculture is a $9.2 billion industry, employing 70,000 workers and is a major component of the state’s strong economy.”

“ I am a bit surprised the Arizona meal cost is up by 30% but I can tell you my fuel costs for this year are up more than 30% on my farm. Based on this year’s average meal cost, Arizona residents can enjoy a traditional Thanksgiving meal for just over $5.00 per person. That’s worthy of many thanks,” Rogers added.

The average price of the remainder of the menu includes: three pounds of sweet potatoes, $4.47; a 16-ounce package of frozen green peas, $2.04; one gallon of whole milk, $3.21; a half-pint carton of whipping cream, $1.99; a package of two nine-inch pie shells, $2.12; a 12-ounce package of fresh cranberries, $2.99; a 14-ounce package of cubed stuffing, $2.80; a 30-ounce can of pumpkin pie mix, $2.47; miscellaneous items like eggs, sugar, flour and coffee, $3.03; one-half pound each of carrots and celery for a relish tray, $.99; and a 12-ounce package of brown-and-serve rolls, $1.99.

Prices of past national surveys include: 1986 - $28.74; 1987 - $24.51; 1988 - $26.61; 1989 - $24.70; 1990 - $28.85; 1991 - $25.95; 1992 - $26.39; 1993 - $27.49; 1994 - $28.40; 1995 - $29.64; 1996 - $31.66; 1997 - $31.75; 1998 - $33.09; 1999 - $33.83; 2000 - $32.37; 2001 - $35.04; 2002 - $34.56; 2003 - $36.28; 2004 - $36.04; 2005 - $37.69 and 2006 - $39.22.

The Farm Bureau Thanksgiving Dinner Price Survey is unscientific, but serves as a gauge of actual price trends across the state. This survey is based on shelf price and does not reflect special prices and promotional gimmicks.

Shoppers involved in this year’s survey were asked to identify the best in-store price, excluding promotional coupons and special deals. Farm Bureau’s survey menu has remained unchanged since 1986 to allow for consistent price comparisons.

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