A professor of agricultural economics at Purdue University says most of the traditional meal items will cost less this holiday season. Ken Foster says overall food prices are down about 2.3 percent compared to last year.
Purdue says animal products including meats, poultry and eggs are down 6 percent, followed by dairy products such as milk, yogurt, cheese and ice cream, which are down 2 percent. Foster says the most important reason for lower prices at the grocery store is lower farm prices.
"Abundant harvests over the past three years have reduced the prices farmers receive," said Foster. "Lower prices for feed items like corn and soybean meal have increased animal production and lowered animal product prices from beef to milk. Food consumers are the benefactors this year. Record U.S. yields for corn, soybeans and wheat in 2016 will keep grocery store food price increases at modest levels into 2017."
Foster says poultry prices are down 1.5 percent, making it highly likely that turkey prices will be lower than last year during the holiday season.
The university says pumpkin production was limited this year due to high rainfall in Illinois, which is the leading pumpkin-producing state in the country. Producers are expecting canning to be down about 50 percent less this year, though they are anticipating having enough canned pumpkin to get through the holiday season.
"If you just have to spend more this year, then perhaps you can turn to the local, organic, or sustainable suppliers for this year’s holiday meals," said Foster. "Prices for the same items in those markets continue to be strong and in the case of turkey, they may be hard to find. Bargain shoppers may find opportunities in diversifying into other meats such as pork and beef, but there is likely no substitute this year for pumpkin pie with prices running higher than last year."
Purdue says prices for "food-at-home" items have declined for 11 consecutive months.