Thanksgiving supply chain

Tips to Avoid Thanksgiving Supply Chain Disruptions!

By Published On: November 22, 2022

A lot of folks are ignoring crucial elements to the success of this holiday: The Thanksgiving Supply Chain!

We overlook the links to these that can span more than just the kitchen to the living room and back. Sometimes, it’s multiple states – and even multi generational.

Let’s take a few moments to examine some best practices for avoiding Thanksgiving Supply Chain Disruptions!

Reshore Gravy Production

A lot of families choose to entrust one of the most crucial elements of the meal to the out of state uncle who might show up late – or not at all. The uncle has that touch and the unknown ingredients that somehow just make the perfect gravy. But, we all know about that uncle. He can be like the container ships that sometimes get stuck in canals. It can totally derail a meal if the gravy isn’t properly sourced. So what do we do in supply chain? We pivot to the strategic rather than the tactical by creating in-house redundancies.

Gravy Tips:

  • Use the drippings from the bird.
  • If possible use the pan that drippings already are in. If not, transfer to a large sauce pan.
  • On high heat, begin reducing the drippings.
  • Add flour as a thickening agent.
    • SECRET TIP: in a small Tupperware container, add warm water and flour. Shake it profusely to mix the flour and water. This prevents flour clumps.
    • Repeat this to achieve desired thickness for gravy.
  • Stir CONSTANTLY with a WHISK
    • This is especially important when adding the flour water mixture.
  • Season to desired flavor
    • SECRET TIP: Coarsely chop fresh rosemary on a cutting board. Sprinkle a teaspoon of coarse grain kosher salt on top of the rosemary. Use the flat side of a knife to crush the salt into the rosemary for better absorption into the gravy.

Continuous Improvement of Mashed Potatoes

One of SCM Talent Group’s core values “Continuously Improving & Innovating”, meaning we never rest on our laurels. Continuous improvement is an important part of working to always exceed the status quo, whether it be increasing efficiencies or alleviating defects. We also apply that philosophy to our mashed potatoes!

Yes, you can rely on your mom’s recipe which has been handed down from generation to generation. But, recipes often leave out the secrets. They are more about ingredients and seasonings. We’re here to talk PROCESS!

If you want your mashed taters to have the best flavor AND texture, moisture and temperature are essential. All too often, we peel and boil potatoes then mash them and hastily add milk, butter, and salt. We’re here to tell you that’s WRONG.

SECRET TIP: Dry out your potatoes. If your spuds have too much water, they can’t absorb the tasty stuff you add to them! If you want to boil them, do so with the skin on, THEN peel, then toss them in the oven to ensure that they’re cooked, BUT DRY.

If you want ultimate texture and flavor, use heavy cream, or at least Half ‘n Half, and not milk. But, it’s also about the application.

SECRET TIP: Simmer cream and butter in a sauce pan. Add it and mix it in gradually.

Finally, don’t over do the mashing. Never use an electric mixer. Hand mash to avoid releasing starch molecules. It’s science and science is cool.

Any of you Lean Six Sigma gurus have any advice to share?

Sustainably Source Your Bird

The sustainable supply chain is a real thing. Environmental, social, and governance priorities have reshaped the supply chain landscape. It stands to reason that we should very much take these things into consideration when strategically sourcing our Thanksgiving Turkeys. Some very important questions to ask:

Where did the Turkey come from?

Was it free range or cage free?

What is the supply chain for moving the bird?

Ideally, we answer these questions with the best possible outcomes in mind. But, let’s give ourselves a little grace for even being willing to ask them, first. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.

Outsource Pies

Labor costs and production times can really throw off last mile meal performance metrics. Once these KPIs get outta whack, it’s hard to recover. There’s no need to terminate the baker. This is one of those times when, as a leader, it’s crucial to understand and acknowledge your blind spots. If pie baking is stressing you out, perhaps it’s because you haven’t adequately meal prepped. But, make no mistake, this element literally lands the plan. So why not trust it to a Contract Manufacturer? After all, you would have to make the crust, filling, and topping. Then ensure proper cook time, oven space, and timing of it all. Heck, is there even enough counter space? Let’s face it, unless you prepped the pies on Wednesday, you might be up the creek, without a paddle!

Outsource it. Offshore production to your cousin in Reno, if you have to. Strategic sourcing is real in today’s supply chain. Find a local baker, BUT BE SURE TO ORDER YOUR PIES EARLY! We’re big fans of Baked Pie Company. Sure, they’re a chain, but are exceptional at what they do, and I would bet that rank very highly on the ‘ole supplier scorecard!

If you can’t find a supplier than carries your targeted pie SKUs, or can’t meet your lead time requirement, it might be best to move production time up to Tuesday or earlier.


The most important part of the day is to enjoy it and be grateful for what we have. At SCM Talent Group, we are super grateful for all the support we have received from clients, candidates, and all of you who read our content and find it useful in your supply chain journeys!