Cost of annual feast drops slightly in Shawano

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The cost to prepare the annual Thanksgiving feast will be lower in Shawano than the state average, according to a Wisconsin Farm Bureau survey.

The survey results, released last week, show that it will cost $47.65 locally to prepare a dozen items for a family of 10. The cost statewide for the annual feast is $48.40, while the national average is $49.04.

This year’s cost is a sharp drop from the Thanksgiving survey in 2012, when Shawano’s total was $55.26. State prices also decreased, but to a lesser degree.

The survey results are not scientific, said WFB spokeswoman Amy Manske. It is one shopper checking prices at one store, although the WFB urges volunteers to check several stores’ prices for the cheapest ones, Manske said.

“A lot can play into it, especially with turkey prices,” Manske said. “As things get closer to the holidays, there’s a lot better deals on turkeys.”

Manske researched state prices dating back to 2000 and noted, while the cost for nonfood essentials has continued to go up, “food is always going to be there and going to be a decent price.”

The price of Thanksgiving’s centerpiece, the turkey, is slightly higher in Shawano than the Wisconsin average. Shawano shoppers will be paying $23.84 for a 16-pound bird, $1.40 higher than the state price.

Local shoppers are also seeing marginally higher costs for milk ($3.89) and a dozen dinner rolls ($2.39).

Where Shawano consumers are seeing savings is in the stuffing. While families across the state are paying $2.75, the local cost for a 14-ounce box is $1.99.

Cranberries are also cheaper in Shawano at a price of $1.69 for 12 ounces, 61 cents below the state average.

Jamie Patton, University of Wisconsin-Extension agriculture agent for Shawano County, said a lot of the food for the feast is produced in northeast Wisconsin, most notably milk, cream and cranberries, so that helps to keep costs down.

“We don’t pay as much because of lower transportation costs due to the plants being closer to us,” Patton said.

However, Patton estimates that the cost of preparing Christmas dinner will be slightly higher, as beef and pork costs have been going up. The uptick has been due to the early blizzard in South Dakota, according to Patton, as well as high feed costs.

“Turkeys, because of their shorter life span, we’re able to ramp up their production,” she said. “We had a good supply this year.”

The prices used in the survey don’t reflect sale prices, so the cost for people shopping for the meal this week should be even lower, Patton said.

“The shopping-savvy consumer can definitely take advantage of sale prices, and on Thanksgiving Day, they’ll be pretty cheap,” she said. “The cost per person is $4.76, and you can get a healthy, home-cooked meal for less than you can going through the drive-through.”

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