Shoppers out looking for their holiday turkey in Arizona should find better prices this year than last year.
But count on that being offset by higher costs for other items on the dinner table.
The annual survey by the Arizona Farm Bureau Federation found the cost of a typical dinner for 10 at $47.83. That’s up $1.67 from last year.
But the centerpiece isn’t the problem.
Spokeswoman Julie Murphree said the organization’s shoppers found the average price for a 16-pound turkey at $19.20. That’s two cents a pound cheaper than last year.
Part of what makes that surprising is that the poultry industry is still recovering from an avian flu that killed millions of birds. While it mainly affected chickens — and drove up the price — turkeys were also hit.
But Murphree said it appears that grocers are absorbing what might be higher wholesale prices.
“It’s always the loss leader,” she said. “It’s what brings people into the store to buy the rest of their dinner.”
And much of the rest of the menu could take extra dollars out of shoppers’ pockets.
Sweet potatoes? Prepare to pay $5.07 for a three-pound bag, up 85 cents from last year. Blame it on increased popularity.
“We’re discovering a lot of the vitamins and minerals,” Murphree said of the root vegetable. “They have high beta carotene.”
And she said people are finding new ways to use it.
“We’ve got sweet potato fries which have become more popular over the years” as an alternative to traditional fries, Murphree explained. “There’s an increase in consumption by the average American in that particular area, and not just because we eat them during the holidays but because we’re having sweet potato fries.”
Canned pumpkin prices also are up in Arizona, with Murphree saying supplies this year are not as plentiful.
Also more expensive this year will be frozen green peas, and the carrots and celery for a relish tray. Murphree said much of the cost of produce can be attributed to the drought in California.
On the other side of the equation, fresh cranberries are down a bit in price, as is milk. And there appear to be deals for boxes of cubed stuffing.
Want to go organic? Be prepared to pay twice as much: Murphree pegged the cost of the same dinner at $98.03, also up from 2014.
Careful shoppers may be able to do better than the organization’s shoppers, particularly on a non-organic bird.
The prices quoted are without coupons. But Murphree pointed out that many stores offer deals to those who have their “affinity” cards.
And some stores are discounting the price of turkeys, with the price per pound dropping more than other items are purchased.