In November 2008, Cub and Wal-Mart were in a price war, offering frozen turkeys for 38 and 40 cents per pound respectively.
This year Cub is once again the low price leader so far. In Sunday's ad in the newspaper, Cub has a coupon for a Honeysuckle white frozen turkey at 48 cents per pound. A $25 purchase is required. (A Butterball premium frozen turkey for 99 cents per pound also requires a coupon and a $25 purchase). You can get extra coupons at the service desk.
Wal-Mart is currently charging 74 cents per pound for a Riverside turkey, 98 cents per pound for Honeysuckle and $1.18 per pound for Butterball (all frozen). Wal-Mart will not match Cub's lower price because a coupon and minimum purcahse is required.
Rainbow also requires a $25 purchase and a coupon , but its Jennie-O turkey is 58 cents per pound.
Those are among the cheapest prices so far. If you're waiting for someone to match the 39 cents per pound price in 2008, you're wasting your time, in my opinion. Wholesale prices are up three to seven cents per pound this year to $1.07 and $1.11, according to ag economist Corinne Alexander at Purdue University. That means that Cub, Rainbow and Wal-Mart are offering their turkeys as a loss leader to make you buy other items. Nothing wrong with that.
But what some people do object to is the less-than-humane way of raising turkeys. Most people who shop price alone probably don't want to know how the bird is raised or its quality of life.
If it does matter to you, you'll pay more. A middle-of-the-road choice is Ferndale free range turkeys from Cannon Falls, featured on WCCO TV yesterday. They're not certified organic, but they have plenty of room to roam with no added processing such as water or butter, according to turkey grower Dick Peterson. They can be purchased for $1.99 per pound at Valley Natural Foods in Burnsville and about $2.29 per pound at most other retailers that sell Ferndale.
Turkey lovers who want certified organic and local will probably be eating a bird from the farm of Larry Schultz near Owatonna. They're about $3.29 a pound at most co-ops and premium supermarkets but Valley Natural Foods Co-op in Burnsville again sells for less at $2.89 per pound for Schultz' frozen organic turkeys.
Costco has the lowest price on certified organic turkeys at $2.69 per pound, but they are not locally raised. I didn't check this year's supply yet, but last year's were raised in Washington state. Sam's Club does not offer organic turkeys.
For those of us given to complaining about the high price of food, this is a gentle reminder that the Thanksgiving meal is one of the cheapest. Few of us pause to think that a turkey at 50 cents a pound is a loss-leading steal. But even if you're paying $3 a pound for a free range organic turkey, no farmer's getting rich at that price.
Feeding 12 people an entree for $42 (14 pound organic turkey at $3 a pound) is still an amazing deal. That's $3.50 per person for the turkey.
If you find turkey for less than what I've listed here, share away. Just know what you're paying for. If it's a local farmer, you have a better chance of knowing exactly how the bird was raised, what it was fed and how it was harvested. As residents in the largest turkey producing state in the country, we don't have to go far to buy a locally raised Thanksgiving dinner. Happy Thanksgiving.