Thanksgiving dinner more expensive this year

Wholesale prices for ingredients of a traditional Thanksgiving dinner are a mixed bag in 2011 when compared to prices in 2010, according to data compiled by The Food Institute. The percent change is wide, varying from a decrease of 29 percent for 2 1/2 dozen packs of celery to an increase of 40 percent on 5/10-lb. bags of fresh potatoes from Idaho. The main component of dinner, the turkey, is looking at an increase of almost 10 percent.


The Consumer Price Index (CPI) for all food is projected to increase 3.5 percent to 4.5 percent in 2011, with food-at-home (retail) prices forecast to rise 4 percent to 5 percent but trending toward the upper end of that range, according to Food Institute projections, as noted in the Oct. 31, 2011 edition of the Food Institute Report. Center-of-the-plate items contributed significantly to the higher price projection for 2011, with meat, poultry and fish accounting for one-eighth of the entire food-at-home CPI figure and for which prices are seen climbing as much as 6.5 percent this year following almost no inflation the prior two years. Wholesale food price advances outpaced those at retail for the fourth straight month in September, as retailers continued to slowly pass along increases they began encountering back in early 2010. The Food Institute projects that retail food prices by the end of 2011 will be about 7 percent higher than a year earlier.


Price increases from feed corn, soybeans and fuel affected turkey prices in 2011. A bushel of feed corn stood at $6.45 as of Nov. 2, compared to $5.75 the same time last year, a 12.2% increase. In 2009, the price was $3.82. According to USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service, preliminary October prices received for live turkeys was 77.2 cents per pound, compared to 73.4 cents in October 2010 -- a 5.2 percent increase. However, turkeys raised in the U.S. during 2011 were 248 million, up 2 percent those raised during 2010, noted National Agricultural Statistics Service's Turkeys Raised September report. This indicates that while wholesale prices of the bird is up almost 10 percent, there continues to be strong demand.


With the exception of frozen carrots, processed fruit and vegetables all saw increased prices in 2011 as compared to 2010, according to The Food Institute. Prices for canned sliced apples have been increasing since last year due to an expansion of the worldwide market for the item, as well as increased demand. Higher pecan prices, up almost 20 percent, are the result of a drought in the Southern U.S. dropping yields, and also increased demand for the product. The market for frozen carrots is better than in 2010, but prices will be back on the rise towards the end of this year as production in 2011 was lackluster due to low yields.