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Published: Tuesday, 11/14/2006

Price up slightly for star of Thanksgiving meal

BY JON CHAVEZ
BLADE BUSINESS WRITER
Jeff Lein wheels frozen turkeys through Bassett's in Sylvania, where the per-pound price is within a few cents of 36 cents. Jeff Lein wheels frozen turkeys through Bassett's in Sylvania, where the per-pound price is within a few cents of 36 cents.
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Expect to pay a few cents more for your Thanksgiving Day turkey this year because of a slight drop in the number of holiday birds at poultry farms.

Still, there will be good deals aplenty as grocers attempt to lure shoppers in to buy low-priced birds, making up the profit hit with prices on all the trimmings.

"Price-wise, everything was affected somewhat this year, what with the cost of gas higher," said Jim Sautter, owner of Sautter's Five-Star Market in Sylvania.

"Customers will be paying a few more pennies a pound. It rarely goes down because the demand is there and the cost of doing business is still going up."

Thus far, Giant Eagle, which markets its own store-label turkey, has the lowest price - 36 cents a pound for a frozen bird. But Bassett's Market, Kroger, and Meijer are all within a few cents of that.

A sampling of area prices shows that consumers will pay 80 cents to $1.20 per pound for a frozen Butterball turkey, and $1.80 or more per pound for a fresh turkey.

Whole hams are priced from as low as $1.39 per pound at Aldi.

Turkey dinners, which may have peaked last year, are still available, but selections seem fewer and prices vary.

Kroger has several prices but is promoting its $29 dinner that provides a 10 to 12-pound turkey, stuffing, gravy, and dinner rolls.

Meijer is offering a $35 package of a turkey with four side dishes and a pie, and Giant Eagle has a $64 dinner that serves eight and provides six side dishes and a pie.

Bassett's, Sautter's, and area Five-Star Markets, including Kazmaier's and Schorling's, are promoting fresh turkeys from Albright Farms, Monroe-

ville, Ohio, for $1.99 a pound.

Mr. Sautter said the volume of customer orders is similar to last year's, although he increased his allotment from Albright by nearly 10 percent this year.

But he also is carrying a frozen turkey for 69 cents per pound. "Everybody gives the frozen ones away," Mr. Sautter said. "You hope to make it up on selling other things that go with it."

Turkey production nationally totaled 3.8 billion pounds through August, or about a 3 percent increase from last year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The slow growth means the average price for an 8-to-16-pound turkey in the third quarter was 79 cents a pound, about 3 cents higher than last year, and then jumped to 96 cents this month.

At retail, whole frozen turkeys nationwide averaged about $1.11 a pound through August.

In Ohio, turkey production is expected to hit about 5.5 million, down 200,000 from last year, according to the National Turkey Federation.

Mo Saif, a poultry specialist with the Ohio State University Extension office, said there were no major disease problems or other factors that curbed production this year.

But turkey production is expensive, with about 70 percent of a farmer's cost being feed.

"If they're not making money over the cost of production, then they'll cut back," he said.

Contact Jon Chavez at:

jchavez@theblade.com

or 419-724-6128.



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