Pine column

PHOENIX -- For those of you who thought the Thanksgiving feast this year would break the bank, there’s some good news.

Prices are up. But not as much as you might have thought.

The latest annual survey by the Arizona Farm Bureau Federation finds the cost of the centerpiece of the meal -- a 16 pound turkey -- is going to run you $1.21 a pound. That compares with just 88 cents last year.

But here’s the thing. The organization’s shoppers found that the price tag for pretty much everything else is less.

And that means the bottom line is this year’s dinner using the fixings on the Farm Bureau shopping list will be $49.62, up just 5.5% from 2020.

To be fair, though, that bill for the 2020 meal itself was up 10% from the prior year.

What’s behind all that is the supply chain and the disruptions in the market from the ongoing COVID outbreak.

Farmers are paying more for feed which in turn is affected by the cost of gasoline and diesel. On the flip side is the cost of getting things to market.

But there’s something else this year.

Last year, before there was a vaccine, many families scrapped the traditional large meal, opting instead for smaller gatherings.

Now people appear to be more comfortable getting together. And that, in turn, has increased the demand.

Yet there still are some bargains to be had.

Both whole milk and whipping cream cost less now than they did a year ago. Ditto sweet potatoes, brown and serve rolls and even a bag of those frozen green peas.

And the cost of stuffing the bird is down. A lot. Like more than a third.

There are some offsets aside from the turkey itself. Fans of pumpkin pie will find that the pre-made pie shells and the pumpkin pie mix will set them back more this year than last year.

What’s important to note in all this, however, is that the survey is based on the price federation shoppers found when they went to the store. More to the point, it does not include the savings that are available for customers who hold a grocer’s affinity card.

And there are some deals to be had.

At Fry’s, for example, a $25 purchase qualifies buyers for a Butterball turkey at 99 cents a pound. And Kroger’s own brand is available for 79 cents a pound.

Bashas’ has a similar deal, offering either Jennie-O or Norbest turkeys at 79 cents a pound with a $25 purchase.

And Safeway and Albertsons -- they’re owned by the same company -- are offering to match what the other stores are advertising for one of their Signature Farms turkeys.

The Farm Bureau did not do a survey this year for an all-organic dinner.

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