Blame the drought for this year’s expensive Thanksgiving dinner

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This year’s Thanksgiving dinner for 10 is estimated to increase by less than one percent with the drought keeping retail food prices even with last year.

Higher prices for crops mean everything from livestock to dairy products and even apple pie will cost more. While the previous year’s drought raised the price of Thanksgiving dinner in 2011 by 13 percent, totaling $49.20, this year’s meal is expected to add another 28 cents to last year’s bill.

American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman encourages members of the agriculture community to connect with consumers during the holiday season.

“At just under $5 per person, the cost of this year’s meal remains a bargain,” said Stallman, a rice and cattle producer from Texas. “Our diverse farm and ranch families are honored to produce the food from our nation’s land for family Thanksgiving celebrations. During this holiday season, I am encouraging farmers and ranchers to reach out to consumers in-person or through social media, to answer questions about the food that they grow or the livestock and poultry they raise.”

Yahoo reports food prices have remained steady since last January, but consumers will begin to notice higher grocery bills as companies pass on higher commodity prices.

High feed costs have resulted in tighter livestock supplies and have even forced some farmers to exit the business. The USDA predicts milk prices will increase by 3.5 percent to 4.5 percent due to the smallest dairy herd in over a decade. Higher milk prices mean dairy products such as cheese and cream will increase by up to 10 percent.

Beef prices, which have declined earlier this year due to herd liquidations, are expected to increase by four or five percent as supplies tighten going into 2013. The Consumer Price Index shows the cost of a turkey is up 6.9 percent, about a dollar per bird.

Surveys show consumers won’t suffer from sticker shock at the checkout lane. A survey by Millionaire Corner reveals about a third (32 percent) of Affluent households plan to spend $50-$99 on the holiday dinner. Another 28 percent plan to spend between $100 and $199.

Consumers will likely favor pumpkin pies over alternatives because pumpkins have weathered the drought better than apples.

Processed foods will likely begin to increase early next year.

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Wayne Kellogg    
Arkansas  |  November, 08, 2012 at 12:54 PM

I agree that the drought is the immediate impact, because reserves were low. Have we forgotten about the economic impact of energy costs and, more specifically, of ethanol production on the price of corn? It seems to me that our priorities need a careful re-examination? That final sentence leads to my last question: What is the projection if another dry year follows this one?

Mary L Anderson    
Jamestown, Ks 66948  |  November, 08, 2012 at 08:51 PM

That's a good article. I was observing that milk prices seem higher even though I know Dairy people are not breaking even. Will they get higher prices now or does supply and demand just go to middle man?

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