The cost of an average Thanksgiving Day meal will be about the same as 1987, but farmers will earn less than they did a year ago, the Texas Department of Agriculture reports.
TDA's annual survey of the cost of the traditional holiday dinner showed a menu of 10 food items will cost consumers an average of $2.34 per portion.But Texas producers who supply the ingredients will net only $0.009, less than a penny per serving, said TDA. The 1987 survey showed producers earning an average of $0.077 per serving, while the 1986 profit was $0.078.
The 10-item survey included turkey, stuffing, rice, whole kernel corn, lettuce, grapefruit, carrots, milk, pecan pie and ice cream.
Texas Agriculture Commissioner Jim Hightower blamed the declining profits for farmers and ranchers on "giant food processors."
"The real beneficiaries of falling farm profits have been the giant food processors which have gone on a merger binge for the last eight years," he said. "For example, just three companies now dominate 70 percent of the U.S. grain-fed cattle market, and one company controls 42 percent of the ready-to-eat cereal market."
Hightower cited increased profits ranging from 80 percent to 171 percent since 1980 for such companies as H.J. Heinz, Hershey Foods, Quaker Oats, Ralston Purina, Kellogg, Campbell Soup, Pillsbury and Borden.
TDA calculated that food price increases during July, August and September alone cost American consumers about $750 million in higher grocery bills.
TDA since June has been closely monitoring increases in food prices, which food processors have blamed on the drought.
"These price increases have almost nothing to do with the drought, but they have a lot to do with the increased market concentration of major food processors," said Hightower.