Ready Your Wallet For Thanksgiving Dinner


N. P. R. and John Newton. You are the chief economist of the American Farm Bureau Federation. Welcome back to the show. Thanks for having me second year in a row. Yeah I yeah no and John First of all. What does the American Farm Bureau Federation do exactly? We're the largest general farm organization in the United States. We have six million members farmers armor you represent farmers we represent farmers every state in America and Puerto Rico. Farm Bureau members. Okay and you're here with us today to talk about the cost of changing in cost Thanksgiving dinner but first of all man. I got a bone to pick with you all right. We started getting into an argument last year that we kind of left hanging. I was saying the Pumpkin Pie. Is the best Thanksgiving dinner dessert. And you were starting to make an argument for pecan Pie so my question for you is how can you be so wrong. Whoa of changed my views really the best desserts now? Macaroni and cheese. Yeah that's dessert. That's sweet it puts me right to bed. Yeah Fair enough to each their own anyways so John The reason we've got you back on the show. Is that the American Farm Bureau Federation every year ear. Does this kind of informal survey of all the ingredients that go into a Thanksgiving dinner for ten. And you calculate the cost and you look at how the cost of Thanksgiving giving dinner has changed over time so after the break John. You're gonNA tell our listeners. Exactly what the cost of Thanksgiving dinner is and Dan how it's been evolving this message comes from. NPR sponsor sponsor state farm. Why do you need state farm renter's insurance because it helps protected this stuff? Landlords don't like your furniture that gets drenched by broken pipe state state farm renter's insurance find agents or get a quote at State Farm Dot Com John Newton. Let's talk about this survey that you and the American Farm Farm Bureau Federation do every year. Okay first of all. How's IT conducted? Well we have volunteer shoppers around the country that go there local grocery stores and survey and evaluate. I wish the price of all the ingredients that you need for that classic Thanksgiving meal so they're checking prices of Turkey pumpkin mix milk whipping cream etc.. And we've been doing this for thirty four years. Yeah and and you send like what two three hundred volunteers out into different stores. All throughout the country right. Yeah all throughout the country. Think this here we are thirty. Eight states represented we had over two hundred and fifty volunteer shoppers from around the country. Go their local grocery store. See how much Thanksgiving causes here. And they're looking. I'm for the biggest bargain like the cheapest ingredient they can find. We don't ask them to do that. We ask them to make sure that they're looking at the prices that are not on promotion not on sale because you know as we get closer to Thanksgiving a lot of these prices of these items do change and we're not trying to see what the promotional prices we're trying to evaluate. What the real cost of this dinner is going to okay so I take it that a big Turkey is one of the ingredients in the survey? What are some of the other ingredients will Turkey's about forty percent of the cost of a Thanksgiving dinner? Thank most folks realize that some of the other stuff obviously You know for a family like yours. That prefers Pumpkin Pie. We've got we've got that on the menu we've got sweet. Potatoes stuffing whipping cream. Zeke Pula whipped cream on your pumpkin pie. CRANBERRIES peas green beans. Dinner Rolls All the fixings that you need for that good. I'm salivating already like right. This second I can't wait one week away. Yeah Ah Okay so sum it all up so you do this survey everybody goes out to see what the cost of these items is. And you tally it all up so dinner for Thanksgiving for ten people. How how much does it cost? It came in this year at forty eight dollars and ninety one cents. I was up one penny from last year and the price of the Turkey came in a dollar thirty pounds down about four percent. So a sixteen birds GonNa cost you twenty dollars and eighty cents this year again. That's below what we saw last year. Okay and I should know now that I think a lot of people are going to be surprised is it. It's only forty eight dollars and ninety one cents for a dinner for ten but again we're talking about shopping and all the different states we're not talking about the whole foods in Manhattan where it would be a lot more expensive than that. That's exactly right. I believe the you know the Turkeys in Manhattan probably come with Valet parking fancy like that. This is a national the average and and we have again. Thirty eight states represented a volunteer shoppers around the country. So this is a pretty good representation of what this meal costs across country okay and so basically the cost of the meal did not change from last year. I mean one cent more expensive basically the same price and we've seen food price. Inflation has been relatively flat that for a number of years. You know farmers receive about eight cents dollar but foreign prices been low really since two thousand fourteen. That's led to some stability in this price of the Thanksgiving giving dinner. Yeah and I gotTa Tell You I was looking at past surveys. That you've done. It looks like the cost of Thanksgiving dinner when you adjust for inflation has been pretty much the same for about three decades it stayed within a range of roughly forty seven to fifty four dollars. There hasn't been a tremendous amount on of fluctuations but of course in that time the amount of money that households earn has gone up and so this share of overall family incomes. It's gone to Thanksgiving Wchs giving dinner. has been kinda falling gently over the last few decades. In fact Americans are the leader in the percentage of their budget that they spend on food they spend less than six percent percent of their disposable income on food. You compare that to Nigeria where they spent over fifty percent of their income on food. We're we're very lucky in the United States. Yeah Okay so let's talk about individual items from Thanksgiving Dinner Looks like the cost of stuffing Pumpkin Pie. Mix and Turkey. Key does all went down right and one of the things to know about the Turkey You know the wholesale price of Turkey's actually GONNA this year but but but many retailers are gonNA use the Turkey to try drive foot traffic in the store so I think that's probably why we saw it actually go down in our survey in Turkey. You pressure probably going to get cheaper. As we approach the holiday some of the other items the the stuffing the you know you. You see those prices fluctuate throughout the year. The big item you know we added Ham and fifty percent people. Ham on Thanksgiving and ham prices actually went up Sixty three cents for a four pound ham this year in terms of the Turkey. You mentioned that some retailers were keeping the cost low to drive foot traffic. I mean do you think that the reason Turkey prices haven't gone up more even though the wholesale price has has gone up is that there's more competition between grocery stores not in DC. It's still three dollars a pound for Turkey near near my house but yeah I think that's. That's the case. Swimming Competition To get consumers into your stores across the country is very real and I think you know during the holiday season. It's so important to get consumers in the store again. Some some items did have their prices increase. For example dinner rolls sweet potatoes and milk. What's going on? There will only on the milk side. You know we've seen gene milk. Prices paid to farmers have gone up this year and and whole milk prices have followed that. So they're up compared to last year by about eighteen cents a gallon for gallon of whole milk Sweet potatoes we've seen supplies sweet potatoes Titan across the country a little bit this year. So that's GONNA lead to a thirty six cent increase in the price of three pounds for for sweet potatoes and really. That's the supply and demand dynamics of these agricultural markets workum John Newton chief economist. The American Farm Bureau Federation. Thanks for being on the show. Thank you this. Episode indicator was produced by Lena Sons. Gary fact check by Nadia Lewis. Our Editors Paddy Hirsch an indicator is a production of NPR. I want to resolve this pumpkin. Pie versus pecan Pie. Yeah let's resolve it. All right squabble. I don't want this to be hanging again for next year. All right. There's some sympathisers for you all right. We we did an additional survey and in one of the items Car of that people do add to their cell to celebrate the Thanksgiving meal. That's not included pecan. Pie is on the list that comes in a number five Importantly that's behind macaroni and cheese. which is number one? So in addition to the menu items that we we asked them about What are some other items that you typically serve on Thanksgiving in so number? One was macaroni. Number five was the pecan Pie. Okay but that's still way behind Pumpkin pie right It no Pumpkin pies traditional. It's the king thank you. I just wanted to say that just once.

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