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Turkey dinner to cost you 11% more

November 16, 2007|From Bloomberg News

A Thanksgiving Day turkey dinner with side dishes and dessert will be 11% more expensive this year, the biggest annual increase since 1990, because of depleted frozen-turkey supplies and rising energy prices.

The average cost of 12 items typically served during the Nov. 22 holiday in the U.S. rose to $42.26 from $38.10 last year, the American Farm Bureau Federation said Thursday. Adjusted for inflation, the cost is $20.46, about 9% less than in the first survey in 1986.

The national average price of a 16-pound turkey gained 12% in the last year to a record $17.63, excluding grocer promotions or rebates, the group said. The gain in turkey prices accounted for $1.93 of the $4.16 increase in the meal's cost.

"The inventory of birds in cold storage is relatively small this year," said Jim Sartwelle, an economist for the Farm Bureau. "The tremendous increase in energy costs for transportation and processing over the past year also is a key factor behind higher retail prices at the grocery store."

The supply of frozen turkeys was 498.5 million pounds at the end of September, down 11% from an average of 557.9 million the previous five years, Sartwelle said.

Diesel fuel prices have risen 27% this year to a record $3.457 Thursday, according to the AAA.

"The cost of energy to produce the food and diesel to move the commodity from the farm to the retail food store is up sharply," Sartwelle said.

The biggest percentage gains were a 32% surge in the price of a gallon of whole milk and a 25% increase in a group of miscellaneous items, including onions, eggs, sugar, flour and butter.

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