Thanksgiving dinner cost increases

November 22, 2011|By ALEJANDRO DAVILA | Imperial Valley Press Staff Writer

Thanksgiving is a few days away and residents are going to grocery stores looking for the ingredients to prepare a meal that same time last year cost on average 13 percent less, according to a report by the American Farm Bureau Federation.

In 2010 the average cost of dinner for 10 people was about $43, the report notes, but that figure has increased to about $49.

Turkey prices are the biggest contributor to the increase, as the average cost of a 16-pound turkey went from about $17 to roughly $21, according to the report.  

In California, the cost of turkeys has increased about 5 to 10 percent for retailers, said Bill Mattos, president of the California Poultry Federation.

The main reason for such increase is that there are about 40 million fewer turkeys in the market, Mattos said. At the same time, the cost to grow turkeys has increased.

Still, “(turkeys) will not cost much more than last year if you shop around,” he said.

Turkey prices are somewhat stable in the county, said Jose Martinez, assistant manager of El Centro Sol Market.

Last year the pound of turkey across the board was $1.09, he said. This year, this price varies between $1.19 and $1.29 a pound depending on the market’s sale margin, he said. The increasing price of fuel also affects the price of turkey, Martinez said.  

“Turkey prices are up a little bit, but not too bad,” said Imperial resident Fred Clayton while buying at Costco.

But the cost of groceries across the board is increasing, especially vegetables, Clayton said. And though he can absorb these increases, his family is “trying to make a low-key holiday season because of the prices,” he said.

El Centro resident Adriana Estrada also noted an increase in prices while shopping at a local supermarket, particularly for turkey.

“I remember getting this last year for $8,” said Estrada while pointing at a 16-pound turkey, “now they (turkeys) are $13 if you spend $25 or more,” she said.

But Estrada is still going to get the same things she always gets for dinner. “Like everyone else you have to adapt to it,” she said referring to cost increases.  

For Miriam Medina the prices “look pretty much the same,” Medina said.

She doesn’t feel affected by the increasing cost of Thanksgiving, she said, adding that perhaps if there was an increase of $1 in everything she would change her Thanksgiving buying habits.

 It was a similar story for Tracy West from Imperial.

She didn’t notice the price increases, West said, and even when this year she paid about $5 more for a turkey compared to last year, “it’s just a few more dollars. It’s not really a big deal.”

But Seeley resident Susan Turner seems to disagree.

She spends about $200 in groceries to host a 20-person Thanksgiving dinner, Turner said. This year she’s buying fewer groceries for the same amount of money, she said.

“With the economy so bad, you would think that things would be a little cheaper,” Turner said.

She is now buying fewer brand names and going to different supermarkets to get the bargains, she said. But that is also costly, Turner said, because that entails driving and using gas.  

“Little by little the merchandise is costing more … but still people got to eat,” said El Centro resident Juana Hirales in Spanish.

Staff Writer Alejandro Davila can be reached at 760-337-3445 or

By the numbers

$17.66 Average cost of a 16-pound turkey in 2010.
$21.57 Average cost of 16-pound turkey in 2011.
260 million Approximate number of turkeys to be sold nationwide in 2011.

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