Gathering around the table for a Thanksgiving dinner won’t take as much of a toll on your pocketbook this year compared to 2022, but the meal still reflects historically high costs. According to Wisconsin Farm Bureau’s annual Marketbasket survey, the price of a traditional Thanksgiving meal in Wisconsin is 1.36% less this year, or $58.81 for a crowd of ten.
“After several years of steep inclines, it is nice to see prices come down, even slightly,” said WFBF’s Director of Media Relations and Outreach Cassie Sonnentag. “Here in America’s Dairyland, we have some of the most affordable food options, making our Thanksgiving meal 3.9% less than the national average.”
Comparatively, the American Farm Bureau Federation’s survey of the same items showed an 4.5% decrease from 2022 with prices nationally at $61.17.
“However, a Thanksgiving meal is still 25% higher than it was in 2019, which highlights the impact high supply costs and inflation have had on food prices since before the pandemic,” said AFBF Senior Economist Veronica Nigh..
Consumers bore the brunt of a price increase in 2022 when a feast for 10 cost $81.30, an increase of $12.58 from the previous year.
The annual survey tallies up the price of traditional food items used to prepare a Thanksgiving feast for ten. This survey allows for Wisconsin food prices to be compared with food prices from across the country.
The shopping list for Farm Bureau’s informal survey includes turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes, rolls with butter, peas, cranberries, a veggie tray, and pumpkin pie with whipped cream, all in quantities sufficient to serve a family of 10 with plenty of leftovers.
Each year, Farm Bureau “volunteer shoppers” head to grocery stores across the state before most grocery store chains began featuring whole frozen turkeys at sharply lower prices, looking for the best prices.
The star of the Thanksgiving meal, the turkey, contributes the most to the grand total on the grocery receipt. This year the big bird rang in $1.21 less per pound than in 2022. Sonnentag says the decrease is attributed to the decline in the spread of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza in the past year.
While turkey prices largely contribute to the change in price overall, produce items across the board saw marginal increases statewide. Continued inflation paired with a summer-long drought are the biggest contributors to these increases.
Farmer’s share of food dollar remains low
While prices in food fluctuate year over year, the farmer’s share of the food dollar remains near just 15 percent. According to the United States Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service, a food dollar represents a $1 expenditure on domestically grown and raised food by U.S. consumers.
Many contributing factors continue to impact the price of food including input costs, transportation, trade, energy, advertising and workforce.
“The bottom line is farmers are price takers, not price makers,” said Sonnentag. “Despite changing prices in the grocery store, the farmer’s share of the food dollar tends to track very closely to 15 cents on the dollar.”
How sound practices result in a sustainable meal
While making decisions in the grocery store, shoppers can rest assured they are purchasing from a sustainable food supply.
According to Gather Wisconsin, preserving and protecting natural resources has always been and will always be a priority in every aspect of food production. Farmers are innovators and continue to create and adopt methods to progress towards their goals. Farmers use the latest technology and innovative practices to improve watershed quality, soil health and reduce their environmental impact.
These sound practices not only help the environment but also preserve food prices in the store.
“Every decision on the farm is articulately made with both the environment and consumer in mind,” said Sonnentag. “Innovative solutions and precision technologies allow farmers to do more with less inputs, which contributes to a sustainable food supply.”
Shoppers can do their part to protect the environment, too. Approximately one-third of human food produced in the world is either lost or wasted. Shoppers can reduce food waste at home by sticking to grocery lists, creatively repurposing leftovers or donating unopened, nonperishable food items to local food pantries.
Shoppers can learn more about sustainable solutions both on the farm and in the home by visiting www.gatherwisconsin.com.