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    Turkey Day Dinner Still Under $50: Survey

    Cost has risen slightly, however

    According to the American Farm Bureau Federation's (AFBF) 29th annual informal price survey of items purchased for Thanksgiving Day, the average cost of this year's feast for 10 people is $49.41, a 37-cent hike from last year's finding of $49.04.

    The main item -- a 16-pound turkey -- cost $21.65 this year, or about $1.35 per pound, a decline of less than 1 cent per pound, or a total of 11 cents per whole turkey, compared with last year.

    "Turkey production has been somewhat lower this year, and wholesale prices are a little higher, but consumers should find an adequate supply of birds at their local grocery store," noted John Anderson, deputy chief economist at Washington, D.C.-based AFBF. Some grocers may use turkeys as loss leaders to lure shoppers into their stores, where they'll buy other common Thanksgiving foods, according to the Farm Bureau.

    Among the other items on AFBF's survey shopping list are bread stuffing, sweet potatoes, rolls with butter, peas, cranberries, a relish tray of carrots and celery, pumpkin pie with whipped cream, coffee, and milk to feed a party of 10, with plenty left over. The survey menu has remained the same since the survey began in 1986, to allow for consistent price comparisons.

    Foods with the biggest increases this year were sweet potatoes, dairy products and pumpkin pie mix. Sweet potatoes were $3.56 for 3 pounds; a half-pint of whipping cream, $2; 1 gallon of whole milk, $3.76; and a 30-ounce can of pumpkin pie mix, $3.12. A 1-pound relish tray of carrots and celery ($0.82) and 1 pound of green peas ($1.55) also went up in price. A combined group of various items, including coffee and ingredients necessary to prepare the meal (butter, evaporated milk, onions, eggs, sugar and flour) rose to $3.48.

    All the Trimmings

    As well as the turkey, other items that fell slightly in price included a 14-ounce package of cubed bread stuffing, at $2.54; 12 ounces of fresh cranberries, at $2.34; two 9-inch pie shells, at $2.42; and a dozen brown-and-serve rolls, at $2.17.

    The average cost of the dinner has hovered around $49 since 2011. The Farm Bureau findings this year track closely with the government's Consumer Price Index for food eaten at home, which showed a 3 percent increase from last year.

    For the Farm Bureau survey, 179 volunteers checked prices at grocery stores in 35 states. They were asked to look for the best possible prices, without taking advantage of special promotional coupons or purchase deals.

    When the survey results were released, Bentonville, Ark.-based Wal-Mart Stores Inc. was quick to point out that shoppers could buy the makings of a traditional Thanksgiving dinner with all the trimmings for 10 people at one of its stores for just $32. 64, a 34 percent lower price than the national average reported by the Farm Bureau.

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