RICHMOND, Va. — Virginians will be able to feed their families a Thanksgiving meal for just over $6 per person this year, according to an informal price survey conducted by the Virginia Farm Bureau Federation.
The survey of common grocery items found on Thanksgiving tables places the average cost of a traditional meal for 10 adults at $60.33, or $6.03 per person. The menu includes turkey, ham, stuffing, sweet potatoes, russet potatoes, rolls, carrots, celery, cranberries, green beans, peas, milk and pumpkin pie with whipped cream. Prices were reported by volunteer shoppers around the state using no promotional sales or coupons. In the interest of shopper safety, volunteers were encouraged to check prices using grocery store apps and websites.
A Thanksgiving meal without ham, russet potatoes and green beans—all of which were added to the survey in 2018—will cost Virginians an average of $47.69.
This year’s statewide average represents a decrease of $3.91 from the 2019 average price of $64.24 for a 10-person meal, the first decrease since 2016.
The average price decrease comes despite farmers encountering food supply chain disruptions due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Virginia farmers were able to connect consumers with safe, nutritious food throughout a period of uncertainty.
“While facing a pandemic, along with detrimental weather and extreme climate conditions, our farmers persevered to provide us all the opportunity to enjoy a Thanksgiving meal this year,” said Wilmer Stoneman, VFBF vice president of agriculture, development and innovation. “I encourage everyone to extend this generosity by sharing a meal with a neighbor in need through a contribution to your area food bank or pantry. Caring for others is as important now as it’s ever been.”
According to information provided by the Federation of Virginia Food Banks, more than 840,000 Virginians are food-insecure, and an additional 275,000 are likely to face pandemic-related food insecurity. Through regular donations and programs like the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farmers to Families Food Box Program, farmers helped the federation’s seven regional food banks distribute over 17 million pounds of produce, meat and dairy products between May and October.
“Our farmers’ willingness to support their communities in challenging times is a testament to their commitment to providing the nation with food we often take for granted,” said VFBF President Wayne F. Pryor. “This year as much as ever, farmers deserve our gratitude as we give thanks for our many blessings.”
This is the 17th year Virginia Farm Bureau has conducted the survey, which is based on an annual survey organized by American Farm Bureau Federation.
Based on prices at Virginia grocery stores, Farm Bureau found the average cost of a 16-pound turkey was $22.42, or about $1.40 per pound. The 2019 average was $1.65 per pound.
The organization found that the average price for a 4-pound bone-in ham was $8.29; a gallon of whole milk was $3.02; frozen peas, $1.30; frozen green beans, $1.31; 3 pounds of sweet potatoes, $2.99; a 5-pound bag of russet potatoes, $3.04; fresh celery, $1.45; fresh carrots, $.98; two pie shells, $2.24; whipping cream, $1.59; canned pumpkin pie filling, $3.26; fresh cranberries, $2.63; stuffing mix, $2.91; and a dozen dinner rolls, $2.89.
The locality with the highest average cost for a meal this year was Washington County at $91.30. The locality with the lowest average cost was Fredericksburg at $41.10.
Nationally, the informal survey conducted by AFBF found the average cost of a 15-item Thanksgiving meal for 10 was $60.11, down 4% from 2019.
The decrease in the average retail price for turkey, sweet potatoes and whipping cream contributed to the drop in the total cost of the meal, noted Dr. John Newton, AFBF chief economist. The national average cost of a 16-pound turkey decreased from $20.80 to $19.39, or $1.21 per pound.
–Virginia Farm Bureau