seal  Purdue News

November 14, 2003

'Gobble' up low cost of Thanksgiving main dish – turkey

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Ben Franklin's favorite bird is filling grocery store freezers, and consumers can expect to pay prices similar to last year for their favorite Thanksgiving main dish, according to a Purdue University expert.

"Turkey will be a best buy meat this holiday season," said Joseph Uhl, professor of agricultural economics. "Both beef and pork prices are higher this year.

"Although turkey competes today with ham and other poultry products, it is still the favorite center-of-the-plate meat for our Thanksgiving feasts," Uhl said. "The American Turkey Federation estimates that 95 percent of us eat turkey at Thanksgiving."

The demand for turkey will be high as usual this holiday season, but there also is an adequate supply of the birds.

"The actual price paid will vary depending on whether you purchase whole turkeys or parts and frozen or fresh birds," he said. "Some shoppers will find even better bargains on turkeys as stores offer special prices for frequent shoppers or on larger birds. Turkey is often used as a loss leader by retailers."

While turkey specials will abound, bargains on other holiday dishes may not be as plentiful, Uhl said.

Cranberry and sweet potato supplies are lower than last year, causing slightly higher prices. The Massachusetts' cranberry crop was damaged by rain and insects, but Uhl said the Wisconsin and Washington crops could make up for the loss. The effect on consumers will be fewer specials on cranberry sauce. A lower and later sweet potato harvest will slightly increase prices on grocery store shelves.

Many other food prices also will increase.

"Food prices are rising this year at about the same rate as other goods and services," Uhl said.

Vegetables and eggs will be higher priced this Thanksgiving, too. Uhl said lettuce and tomatoes will cost 25 percent more this year, and eggs will cost 5 percent more.

"Milk and dairy products are generally lower priced than last year, and good supplies of Florida citrus crops – oranges, tangerines and grapefruit – will keep those prices lower," he said.

The smell of coffee may seem better this winter, too. Grocery shoppers will find low coffee prices due to 30-year lows in grower prices because of large world supplies, Uhl said.

The essential baking ingredients also are lower in cost than last Thanksgiving, he said. These include sugar, bread, pasta and flour.

Rising food prices are partly due to rising energy costs. Uhl said higher gas prices affect the cost of preparing holiday meals.

Writer: Michelle Betz, (765) 494-8402,

Source: Joseph Uhl, (765) 494-4219,

Ag Communications: (765) 494-2722; Beth Forbes,
Agriculture News Page

Related Web site:
Purdue Agricultural Economics

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