Turkey higher, some food prices lower

Published 10:21 am Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The average turkey is going to cost more this holiday season, but a study conducted by the Alabama Farmers Federation in early November found that other Thanksgiving dinner ingredients are less expensive.

The cost of turkey averaged $1.18 a pound, up nine cents from a year ago, and smoked hams were up eight cents to $1.95 a pound, according to the study. Pecans, though, dropped 33 cents and stuffing was down 79 cents. Oranges are still a bargain at $1 a pound. Cranberry sauce is up nickel to $1.14 for a 16-ounce can, while sweet potatoes remained unchanged at 83 cents a pound.

“Despite increases in food prices this year, the components of a classic Thanksgiving dinner cost less compared to 1988 when the effects of inflation are removed,” said Jeff Helms, spokesperson for the Alabama Farmers Federation. “Even at these slightly higher prices, the cost per person for the holiday meal remains lower than most ‘value meals’ at fast-food outlets.”

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However, the study found that holiday specials might not extend to the rest of the grocery store. According to the federation’s monthly food price survey, the average cost of 20 basic market basket items was up 51 cents in November to $54.57.

Higher prices for pork and poultry had a big impact on the overall grocery bill as bacon jumped 23 cents to $4.18 a pound. Pork chops were also a penny higher at $3.56 a pound, while Boston butts were down a nickel to $1.86 a pound. Chicken breasts also posted a big increase, averaging $2.14 a pound, up 19 cents. Eggs also were up 16 cents to $1.75 a dozen. Whole fryers, however, were up just 3 cents to $1.23 a pound.

The best buys at the meat counter, this month, were for beef. T-bone steaks averaged $8.35 a pound, down 33 cents, and chuck roasts were down 15 cents to $3.52 a pound, while ground beef was unchanged at $2.44 a pound.

Regional reports collected around the state showed the market basket averaged $52.72 in northwest Alabama, $52.84 in the northeast corner of the state, $55.15 in the central counties and $59.46 in south Alabama.

Alabama Farmers Federation, a member of the American Farm Bureau Federation, is the state’s largest farm organization. Its county members conduct the informal monthly market basket survey as a tool to reflect retail food price trends.