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Futures File: Thanksgiving meal to cost less this year

Monday, November 25, 2013 - 12:01 am

Americans have a lot to be thankful for, and this year's bountiful fall harvest is among them. Good growing weather and increasing efficiency allowed farmers to produce a record-breaking corn crop, which has helped to lower the price of corn as well as numerous related foods.

For those preparing a Thanksgiving meal next week, one pleasant surprise may be lower-priced food. According to a recent survey by the American Farm Bureau Federation, the average cost of a Thanksgiving feast for 10 will be $49.04, down slightly from last year's estimate of $49.48. The largest contributor to this price break is the turkey, which is down 2.1 percent in price versus last year. One major factor in the price decline is cheaper feed, like corn and soybean meal, both of which are much cheaper than last year.

As you sit down to enjoy this year's feast, take a moment to reflect on those who work to provide the bounty.

Pricier gasoline looms

Despite saving on food, Americans should expect to spend a little more money this Thanksgiving as they travel over the river and through the woods, as gasoline prices are around a dime higher than last year.

Over the last two weeks, gas futures have rallied more than 20 cents per gallon, partially in response to a breakdown in nuclear talks with Iran. Traders expected lessened tensions and a potential release of 1 million barrels of Iranian crude onto the market, but a standoff between France and Iran seems to be stalling those plans. Gasoline's price increase has also been attributed to shutdowns at two major refineries.

On Friday, gasoline futures traded at a one-month high near $2.76.

Coffee cheap, cocoa costly

After-dinner drinks had big moves this week as well. Coffee prices continue to grind near seven-year lows due to ample harvests in Brazil, Colombia and Central America. Meanwhile, cocoa prices made a two-year high Friday as global demand continues to outpace production, which is lagging due to poor weather in Indonesia, Ghana, and the Ivory Coast, three of the world's largest cocoa-producing nations.

As of midday Friday, coffee was worth $1.07 per pound, while cocoa traded for $2,800 per metric ton.

Opinions are solely the writer’s. Walt Breitinger is a commodity futures broker in Valparaiso. He can be reached at 1-800-411-3888 or This is not a solicitation of any order to buy or sell any market.