PHOENIX -- The cost to feed family and friends this Thanksgiving is going to be as low as it's been in a decade.
And shoppers should credit that to an ample supply of turkeys -- and some heavy-duty competition.
The latest survey from the Arizona Farm Bureau Federation shows the cost of a typical Thanksgiving dinner for a gathering of 10 this year is $39.82. That's 14 percent less than shoppers paid for the same items a year ago.
More significant, the last time the pricetag was below $40 was in 2006.
The big difference is the centerpiece.
Farm Bureau spokeswoman Peggy Jo Goodfellow, who went out and did the price checks, found the typical 16-pound bird selling this year for 89 cents a pound. That same bird was running $1.23 a pound a year ago.
"There is a definite price war going on,'' she said.
In fact, Goodfellow said she returned home from her shopping trip to find a circular from Albertson's offering to match the prices of turkeys being sold by Fry's and Bashas', the chain's two main competitors, through the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. (Safeway is now part of the Albertson's chain but maintains its own advertising.)
But Goodfellow said that ability of stores to try to sell their birds for so little is also dependent on what she said is a healthy supply of the frozen birds.
Overall, the prices on the rest of the grocery list remain pretty much the same. In fact, the cost of that 12-ounce bag of cranberries has hardly budged for years.
Goodfellow has no explanation, especially as the fruits are not grown in Arizona. But there have been allegations over the years -- none ever proven -- that the growers have effectively formed a cartel designed to keep prices from falling.
For those who prefer their Thanksgiving dinners to be organic, the price drop this year is nowhere near as large as it is for the items without that certification. But the increasing demand for organic products has had the effect of driving down costs.
For example, just two years ago that 30-ounce can of organic pumpkin pie mix was running close to $6, twice the price of the non-organic version. This year Goodfellow found cans in the $4 range, just a dollar above the standard product.
And there's only a 43-cent difference between the cost of a three-pound bag of organic sweet potatoes and those that are not, or about 15 cents a pound.
Still, shoppers who want an organic-only menu will pay dearly for some items, starting with the bird at $2.99 a pound.
Goodfellow said savvy consumers may be able to do even better. She said while her organization's price comparison does take advantage of sales, it does not factor in savings from coupons or each store's "affinity'' program, which may give even bigger discounts to regular customers.
Farm Bureau President Stefanie Smallhouse, a Pima County rancher and crop farmer, said Arizonans benefit from having items produced both locally and nationally. She also noted that agriculture has a $23.3 billion annual impact in Arizona and is "a major component of the state's economy."