Tur­key tab

The av­er­age cost of this year’s hol­i­day meal

Yuma Sun - - FRONT PAGE - BY HOWARD FIS­CHER

PHOENIX — The cost to feed the horde this Thanks­giv­ing is go­ing to be as low as it’s been in a decade.

And shop­pers should credit that to a good sup­ply of tur­keys — and some heavy-duty com­pe­ti­tion.

The lat­est sur­vey from the Ari­zona Farm Bureau Fed­er­a­tion shows the cost of a typ­i­cal Thanks­giv­ing din­ner for a fam­ily of 10 this year is $39.82. That’s 14 per­cent less than shop­pers paid for the same items a year ago.

More sig­nif­i­cant, the last time the pric­etag was be­low $40 was in 2006.

The big dif­fer­ence is the cen­ter­piece. Farm Bureau spokes­woman Peggy Jo Good­fel­low, who went out and did the checks, found the typ­i­cal 16-pound bird sell­ing this year for 89 cents a pound. That same bird was run­ning $1.23 a pound a year ago.

“There was a def­i­nite price war go­ing on,’’ she said.

In fact, Good­fel­low said she re­turned home from her shop­ping trip to find a cir­cu­lar from Al­bert­son’s of­fer­ing to match the prices of tur­keys be­ing sold by Fry’s and Basha’s, the chain’s two main com­peti­tors, through the Wed­nes­day be­fore Thanks­giv­ing. (Safe­way is now part of the Al­bert­son’s chain but main­tains its own ad­ver­tis­ing.)

But Good­fel­low said that abil­ity of stores to try to sell their birds for so lit­tle is also de­pen­dent on what she said is a healthy sup­ply of the frozen birds.

Over­all, the prices on the rest of the gro­cery list re­main pretty much the same. In fact, the cost of that 12-ounce bag of cran­ber­ries has hardly budged for years.

Good­fel­low has no ex­pla­na­tion, es­pe­cially as the fruits are not grown in Ari­zona. But there have been al­le­ga­tions over the years — none ever proven — that the grow­ers have ef­fec­tively formed a car­tel de­signed to keep prices from fall­ing.

For those who pre­fer their Thanks­giv­ing din­ners to be or­ganic, the price drop this year is nowhere near as large as it is for the items with­out that cer­ti­fi­ca­tion. But the in­creas­ing de­mand for or­ganic prod­ucts has had the ef­fect of driv­ing down costs.

For ex­am­ple, just two years ago that 30-ounce can of or­ganic pump­kin pie mix was run­ning close to $6, twice the price of the nonor­ganic ver­sion. This year Good­fel­low found cans in the $4 range, just a dol­lar above the stan­dard prod­uct.

And there’s only a 43cent dif­fer­ence be­tween the cost of a three-pound bag of or­ganic sweet pota­toes and those which are not, or about 15 cents a pound.

Still, shop­pers who want an or­ganic-only menu will pay dearly for some items, start­ing with the bird at $2.99 a pound.

Good­fel­low said savvy con­sumers may be able to do even bet­ter. She said while her or­ga­ni­za­tion’s price com­par­i­son does take ad­van­tage of sales, it does not fac­tor in sav­ings from coupons or each store’s “affin­ity’’ pro­gram which may give even big­ger dis­counts to reg­u­lar cus­tomers.

Farm Bureau Pres­i­dent Ste­fanie Small­house, a Pima County rancher and crop farmer, said Ari­zo­nans ben­e­fit from hav­ing items pro­duced both lo­cally and na­tion­ally. She also noted that agri­cul­ture has a $23.3 bil­lion an­nual im­pact in Ari­zona and is “a ma­jor com­po­nent of the state’s econ­omy.”

PHOTOSPIN.COM

THE PRIC­ETAG FOR A THANKS­GIV­ING MEAL IS DOWN, thanks to a good sup­ply of tur­keys and heavy-duty com­pe­ti­tion.

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