Thanksgiving Dinner Costs Rise 1-Cent from 2018

Whether you’re the host and hostess or the family will be heading over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house this Thanksgiving, we can all be thankful that the pressures of inflation are virtually non-existent at the holiday dinner table when you add it all up.

The American Farm Bureau Federation’s 34th annual survey of classic items found on the Thanksgiving Day dinner table indicates the average cost of this year’s feast for 10 people is $48.91, or less than $5.00 per person. That is a 1-cent increase from last year’s average of $48.90.

Dr. John Newton is Chief Economist for the American Farm Bureau Federation. He tells us, “The average cost of this year’s Thanksgiving dinner is essentially unchanged from last year, after three years of decline since 2015.”  Newton adds, “Americans continue to enjoy the most affordable food supply in the world, but most don’t realize only 8-cents of every dollar consumers spend on food goes to farmers.”

In a new Farm Bureau survey, most Americans were surprised to learn the farmers’ share of the food dollar is so small. Three out of four Americans are interested in learning more about how their food is produced. Farm Bureau farmer and rancher members, state educational foundations, as well as others involved in food production, are responding to public interest with expanded outreach and educational opportunities. Survey results indicate Americans have faith in those who grow their food, with 88-percent saying they trust farmers.

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Newton suggests, “The Thanksgiving price survey opens the door to a deeper dialogue about how food is produced and how prices remain so stable despite volatility in the farm economy this year and severe weather hampering planting and harvest.”

The centerpiece on most Thanksgiving tables – the turkey – costs slightly less than last year, at $20.80 for a 16-pound bird. That’s roughly $1.30 per pound, down 4-percent from last year. The survey results show that retail turkey prices are the lowest since 2010.

The shopping list for Farm Bureau’s informal survey includes:

  • Turkey
  • Stuffing
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Rolls with butter
  • Peas
  • Cranberries
  • A veggie tray
  • Pumpkin pie with whipped cream
  • Coffee and milk

All ingredients are considered in quantities sufficient to serve a family of 10 with plenty for leftovers.

Although the overall average cost of the meal was about the same this year, there were some price changes for individual items. In addition to turkey, foods that showed slight price declines include cubed bread stuffing and canned pumpkin pie mix. Foods showing modest increases this year included dinner rolls, sweet potatoes and milk. After adjusting for inflation, the cost of this year’s Thanksgiving dinner is $19.13, down slightly from last year.

You can view an item-by-item comparison of prices from the 2018 and 2019 American Farm Bureau Federation Thanksgiving cost surveys at the link below:


Michigan farmers produce many of the items on the traditional Thanksgiving Dinner table. They are supported by not only Farm Bureau but by specific commodity-related organizations, which, in turn, are part of what is known as the Michigan Ag Council. Noelle Nachreiner is its executive director.

Nachriener says, “The Michigan Ag Council is a sector-wide coalition representing Michigan’s diverse agriculture industry whose common goal is to build trust in farmers and farming practices among consumers,” and adds, “We know that farmers in this state are hard working moms, dads, aunts, uncles and grandparents who take pride in producing high-quality food and products. We want consumers to trust that the food they eat was grown right here in Michigan by a farmer who cares about them, the land and their community.”

The Michigan Ag Council, also known by their slogan, Michigan GROWN Michigan GREAT, has released a new video featuring a Michigan dairy farm family, and their holiday dinner table full of Michigan grown food. You can see that video here:

The opinion poll revealed that 90-percent of Americans celebrate the holiday with a special meal and turkey remains a staple for 95-percent of consumers, while half serve both turkey and ham at their Thanksgiving meal. In recognition of changes in Thanksgiving dinner traditions, the Farm Bureau price survey includes ham, potatoes and frozen green beans. Adding those foods to the classic Thanksgiving menu increased the overall cost slightly, to $62.32 or just over $6 per person.

Despite the growing popularity of prepared foods, the vast majority of Americans, 92-percent, celebrate Thanksgiving at home or at a family member’s home and most cook their entire meal at home, according to the survey.

More than 250 volunteer shoppers checked prices at grocery stores in 38 states for this year’s survey. Farm Bureau volunteer shoppers are asked to look for the best possible prices, without taking advantage of special promotional coupons or purchase deals.

The American Farm Bureau Federation Thanksgiving dinner survey was first conducted in 1986. The informal survey provides a record of comparative holiday meal costs over the years. Farm Bureau’s classic survey menu has remained unchanged since 1986 to allow for consistent price comparisons.