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Holiday Cornucopia Costs Up Slightly This Year

By Jenny Bjelland
UW-RF News Bureau

NOV. 12, 2004--Turkey, ham, and all the trimmings will soon once again bless our kitchen tables for a filling holiday meal. However, these products and other holiday bounty may come at a slightly greater price this year, according to the University of Wisconsin-River Falls College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences.

Faculty suggest that the rise in crude oil and gasoline prices may lead to a slight rise in the consumer price of all commodities this holiday season as producers try to compensate for higher production costs.

Stanley Schraufnagel, UW-RF professor of agricultural economics, said that commodity prices vary compared to last year, citing September 2004 figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics,.

A 5-pound chuck roast has declined $2.14 or about 43 cents per pound compared to November 2003. The price of ham remains fairly consistent at $2.94 per pound. Turkey prices are currently up 15 cents per pound making a 15-pound turkey cost approximately $2.25 more than last year.

However, according to Schraufnagel, as the holidays approach grocers will continue to reduce the price of turkey as "loss-leader" sales to attract shoppers, since the product serves as a traditional main course for many holiday meals.

Potatoes, a staple vegetable on many holiday plates, have taken a slight increase in price since last year. A 5-pound bag of potatoes currently costs 30 cents more than last year.

According to Schraufnagel, Labor Statistics showed that the average price of a gallon of whole milk decreased from $2.94 last November to $2.68 for September 2004. The September price is the lowest average reported since August 2003.

In contrast, butter has jumped in price since last holiday season by $1.23 per pound. The average price of one pound of grade AA butter is now $3.68.

Traditional holiday décor often includes poinsettias and Christmas trees. According to Terry Ferriss, UW-RF horticulture professor, the current price projection for poinsettias should be steady from last year. However, growers may need to bump their prices reflect the rising cost of fuel.

The actual price of a poinsettia plant is based on many factors including the size of the plants, the number of plants within a pot, and the type of pot used, Ferris said. The quality of added services and decorations including pot coverings, ribbons, and delivery options affect the cost of poinsettias, as well.

"Today there are more than 100 varieties to choose from," said Ferriss. The varieties of color include many shades of red, pink, and white. Modeled, variegated or multicolored varieties have become popular in the past couple years. Variation has also grown in size, as larger specimens are now being sold in the tree form and in hanging baskets.

For those who want to move away from the traditional red and green holiday colors, Ferriss said that the Plum Pudding poinsettia has been part of a growing trend. The leaves of this plant are burgundy-colored making, it an excellent choice for consumers who prefer burgundy-and-gold holiday décor.

As the December grows near, there is also the price of the Christmas tree to consider. Professor Mike Kaltenberg, professor in the UW-RF plant and earth science department, believes that the price of Christmas trees this year will be similar to slightly higher than last year.

According to the National Christmas Tree Association, the average price of real trees has increased by nearly a dollar for each of the last three years, says Kaltenberg. This trend, along with the price of gas, may cause a slight increase in Christmas tree prices.
Kaltenberg says, "Choose-and-cut trees will range anywhere from $15 to $50, and the average retail price for an cut 8-foot tree will be around $65."

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UW-RF Falcon Foods Offering Holiday Fare

The holiday season brings a variety of foods and flavors to the market such as cranberries, egg nog, peppermint and other traditional favorites.

For the next two months the UW-RF Falcon Foods store sells Winter Wonderland, Peppermint Stick, and After-Dinner Mint flavors of ice cream. According to Ranee May, dairy plant manager and faculty associate in the department of animal and food sciences at UW-RF, the prices for the ice cream will remain the same as last year. Falcon Foods sells ice cream for $2.25 per quart and $4 per half-gallon.

Falcon Foods' cheese gift boxes and cheese and sausage trays are also available for the holiday season. Cheese gift boxes range from a two-pound box at $13.95 to a four-pound box at $22.95. Cheese and sausage trays serving 25 people or 45 people are also available as ordered with prices ranging from $25 to $35.

For information call 715-425-3704.

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Last updated: Tuesday, 22-Jun-2010 16:21:17 Central Daylight Time

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