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FAYETTEVILLE, Ark -- Higher costs for poultry feed and higher global demand for protein
are among the backseat drivers in the rising cost of this year’s Thanksgiving meal.
In its annual survey, the Arkansas Farm Bureau said the cost to prepare this year’s
Thanksgiving meal was up to $4.62 per person from $4.26 last year. Farm Bureau attributed
the rise to, among other things, an increase in the average cost of a frozen turkey
and the price of whole milk.
However, prices declined slightly for other Thanksgiving staples such as cubed stuffing
Keith Bramwell, extension poultry specialist for the University of Arkansas System
Division of Agriculture, said that in general, the primary cost associated with both
chicken and turkey was feed costs, although overall meal costs for consumers may be
tied more closely to shoppers seeking niche market products.
“As a general rule, agricultural costs are going up a little bit. And I think some
of that is the movement toward organic, free-range stuff, and that just has a higher
cost,” Bramwell said. “But I think your typical person who fixes his or her thanksgiving
meal, if they haven’t switched over to looking at that type of avenue, they may not
quite see that big of an increase in that type of a meal.”
Travis Justice, chief economist for Arkansas Farm Bureau, attributes the price hike
primarily to higher costs of production and increased demand for dairy products.
“Turkey prices have risen this year as a result of production cutbacks by growers
who are facing higher feed and transportation costs,” Justice said. “Milk and other
dairy product prices are higher, again due to feed costs, plus poor weather conditions
and a growing global demand for U.S. dairy-based items.”
“Other elements of the meal, namely cereal grain-based foods and vegetables, vary
slightly from last year, with the exception of sweet potatoes, whose prices have risen
due to weather-related production problems and its increasing popularity as a health
food,” he said.
According to the Farm Bureau’s statewide survey, the average price of a 16-pound young
tom turkey this year increased $2.49 to $18.08, or $1.13 per pound, above with overall
rises in retail turkey sales nationwide. American Farm Bureau reported an average
of $1.35 per pound.
Another major driver of the survey is the cost of a gallon of whole milk. After dropping
to $4 in 2013 the average increased to $4.25 this year. Also contributing to the price
hike was a 59-cent increase in the cost of a half-pint carton of whipping cream and
55-cent increase for three pounds of sweet potatoes.
Harold Goodwin, professor-Agricultural Economics and Business in the University of
Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, said prices on milk and other high-protein
staples are also being affected by increased overseas demand.
“There’s a lot of protein demand around the world,” Goodwin said. “As incomes go up
in other countries, the first thing they switch to is more protein.”
Goodwin said ongoing drought in California is also driving up some produce prices.
Other items included in the meal that saw an increase in price were:
Items that saw modest price reductions include:
Cranberry growers in Wisconsin and Canada were reporting record crops.
For more information on food preparation and shopping smart, contact your county
extension office or visit www.uaex.uada.edu.
The Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service offers its programs to all eligible persons
regardless of race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin,
religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any
other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.
By Ryan McGeeneyThe Cooperative Extension ServiceU of A System Division of Agriculture
Media Contact: Ryan McGeeneyDir. of Communication ServicesU of A Division of AgricultureCooperative Extension Service(501) email@example.com