Turkeys are a staple of American Thanksgiving feasts -- but overwhelming annual demand for the festive bird presents a unique challenge for the retail supply chain.
At the end of November, Americans across the country participate in one of the year’s most highly anticipated meals; we pile dining room tables high with turkey and stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, corn and cranberries -- and don’t forget the pumpkin pie. But arguably the most important fixture of the Thanksgiving feast is the bird itself.
Over 45 million turkeys are consumed each year during the Thanksgiving holiday season. An average turkey weighs about 16 pounds, which means that we collectively chow down on about about 730 million pounds of delicious turkey every Thanksgiving. Many families reserve their turkey months in advance, pre-ordering the exact size and variety of bird they’re after before the grocery store’s supply runs dry. Many dedicated hosts even take time off of work to prepare for the holiday meal.
Somehow, suppliers and retailers manage to keep up with the nation’s massive appetite year after year. So how do they do it?