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Thanksgiving food prices sink as Americans scale down their feasts

Turkey prices are sinking as the pandemic may keep some American families from hosting big groups this Thanksgiving.

The price of ingredients in a traditional turkey dinner for 10 people is down to the lowest level in a decade, driven largely by grocers discounting the meal’s centerpiece to attract customers, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation.

The drop in turkey prices —7% lower than last year for a 16-pound bird, according to Farm Bureau — comes as many retailers are preparing to sell a greater variety of food this year. More families are cash-strapped and grocery chains expect some to make new choices as they confront preparing the holiday meal for the first time without relatives’ help.

More than a third of Americans plan to spend less on Thanksgiving this year, according to a survey from mobile-rewards platform Ibotta Inc.

“Pricing whole turkeys as ‘loss leaders’ to entice shoppers and move product is a strategy we’re seeing retailers use that’s increasingly common the closer we get to the holiday,” said John Newton, chief economist for Farm Bureau, which has been surveying retail prices ahead of the holiday since 1986.

The average overall cost of a traditional Thanksgiving dinner for 10 this year is $46.90, down 4% from last year, according to the farm group’s survey. The survey is based on a menu of turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes, rolls with butter, peas, cranberries, a veggie tray, pumpkin pie with whipped cream, and coffee and milk.

In addition to turkey, foods that showed slight price declines include whipping cream and sweet potatoes. Foods showing modest increases this year included dinner rolls, cubed bread stuffing and pumpkin pie mix.

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