Ag Policy Blog

Thanksgiving Dinner May Be Cheaper, But Farmers Also Are Receiving Less

Chris Clayton
By  Chris Clayton , DTN Ag Policy Editor
Connect with Chris:
One reason the American Farm Bureau Federation states Thanksgiving prices are cheaper this year is the average price for a 16-pound turkey comes in at $1.21 a pound, a 7% decline from last year. Retail turkey prices are the lowest since 2010. National Farmers Union notes farmers on average only receive about 11.9 cents per dollar spent on Thanksgiving food. (DTN file photo)

Two major agricultural groups showed a couple of differing results this week regarding the cost of a Thanksgiving dinner.

The American Farm Bureau Federation's annual cost survey for Thanksgiving showed a feast for ten people comes in at $46.90, or essentially $4.69 per person. This is a $2.01 decline from last year's average of $48.91.

“The average cost of this year's Thanksgiving dinner is the lowest since 2010,” said AFBF Chief Economist John Newton. “Pricing whole turkeys as 'loss leaders' to entice shoppers and move product is a strategy we're seeing retailers use that's increasingly common the closer we get to the holiday."

The National Farmers Union also reports farmers and ranchers this year will earn approximately 11.9 cents on every dollar spent on Thanksgiving, a decline from 2019 when farmers received 12.15 cents on the dollar for the same meal.

NFU and AFBF use different numbers in their examination of the issue. AFBF points out the overall list of products surveyed for its meal shows a price decline of about 4% from 2019. Farm Bureau's national average cost was calculated using more than 230 surveys with pricing data from all 50 states.

Using USDA's Consumer Price Index for Food, NFU notes food from a grocery store was 3.9% higher than a year ago, outpacing the overall average inflation rate of 1.4%.

“Ordinarily, Thanksgiving is a time to gather with our loved ones and enjoy a big meal,” said NFU President Rob Larew. “But for many Americans, the typical, food-filled get-together won't be possible, and not just because of public health concerns. With millions out of work and no additional government support in sight, the cost of traditional holiday foods may simply be out of reach for some families.”

NFU notes that while consumers may be paying more for groceries, "almost none of that is being passed on to farmers and ranchers. Instead, it's being captured by the processor, packers, distributors, and retailers in between."

AFBF's average survey costs for a Thanksgiving dinner:…

ERS pricing data on food:…

NFU's details on the farmer's share of a Thanksgiving dinner:…

Chris Clayton can be reached at

Follow him on Twitter @ChrisClaytonDTN


To comment, please Log In or Join our Community .