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Friday, September 17 2021

Thanksgiving may seem far off, but with food and product shortages, higher prices and shipping issues brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, the time is actually now to start planning for turkey day.

"It might only be September, but for many, the holidays are already here," said NBC senior business correspondent Stephanie Ruhle. "Experts are urging Americans to plan ahead."

The first thing Ruhle wants you to put on on your to-do list? Getting food for your Thanksgiving feast.

"Holiday food shopping this year will be more challenging than ever," Phil Lempert, food trends analyst and editor of told TODAY Food in an email. "The perfect storm of climate change, especially the wildfires in the West has destroyed some crops which has driven up the cost of soy and corn feeds for animals, which translated to increased costs for the farmer and therefore the shopper."

Lempert said to look for the biggest increases to be in animal-based products: milk, eggs, beef, pork, chicken and, yes, even turkey. "Transportation costs have risen dramatically. According to Tyson, refrigerated transportation is up over 10% and there is a shortage of truck drivers, so getting food to market is challenging," he said.

Due to the pandemic, many food processing facilities are operating well below capacity. Add to that the fact that many supermarkets are reporting that their suppliers can only fill 50-70% of their orders and you have a recipe for holiday disaster.

"What this all means is that prices will continue to rise for the next 16 to 18 months and we will see shortages on supermarket shelves," said Lempert. "When it comes to our favorite Thanksgiving food, smaller fresh and frozen turkeys (those 16 lbs and under) will be in short supply, so clean out your freezer now and do your holiday food shopping early, either in-store and online," he said, reminding shoppers that even Amazon sells whole turkeys.

Ruhle said that if you do get your hands on a bird, expect to pay more for it. "Groceries are up 3% compared to a year ago and turkeys, more than 6%."

Ruhle said it's not too early to start ordering your turkey and cranberries now — and Jake Tavello, vice president of stores at Stew Leonard’s, a Northeast supermarket chain, echoed that sentiment, advising customers to order ahead.

“Stew Leonard’s has ordered enough turkeys in all sizes to feed our customers this Thanksgiving," Tavello told TODAY in an email, saying that his stores sell more than a million pounds of turkey for the holiday. His main advice to customers is, you guessed it, to shop early.

"You can buy your Thanksgiving turkey up to 10 days in advance," he said. "We also suggest stocking up on your pantry staples in the weeks prior to the holiday, and then coming into the store just before the holiday for your fresh bread, produce and pies.”

If you're worried that you'll have to serve pizza for Thanksgiving dinner, the National Turkey Federation is reassuring customers that there will be enough birds to go around. The key to getting what you want, like Ruhle said, is to plan ahead.

“Turkey is the centerpiece of the Thanksgiving meal, and Americans can rest assured there will be enough turkeys available this holiday season," Beth Breeding, vice president of communications and marketing for the National Turkey Federation said in an email.

"If families have a preference for a fresh turkey, a specific size turkey or a particular turkey cut such as a bone-in breast, we recommend planning ahead with your local retailer to ensure you are able to get exactly the holiday turkey you want. Shopping early is always a good plan! The bottom line is that no matter how you’re celebrating Thanksgiving, there is a turkey option for your table.”

Posted by: AT 06:27 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Monday, September 13 2021

The other day, I was sitting with a group of college students at Starbucks, we were discussing startup businesses. They were brainstorming of what type of business to start. A guy in an ice cream truck pulled up and the driver ran into Starbucks. I joked as he ran by, "don't you sell any coffee flavored ice cream?" Everyone laughed as did the driver as he briskly rushed the door open and ran in. "Maybe he is just using the restroom?" We all laughed again, and then saw him get pick-up his pre-made coffee he must have ordered with his smart phone Starbuck's app.

As he was leaving he told us while we sat at the outdoor table that he did sell coffee flavored ice cream. I asked if I could buy a round of ice cream for the group. He apologized and said; "Today, I am delivering Amazon Packages, as a delivery contractor, my brother is using all his vans, so I am helping out, we are really busy - Prime Day Delivery!" Everyone was intrigued, and he broke into a stride saying; "Chow" as he left, and he turned on the music for us as he drove away. What a cool small business owner. We all laughed again, he was so busy he just needed more caffeine to finish his hectic day.

Our group then went back to brainstorming on what a smart business might be for a startup. I laughed and said: "Hey, you have to be observant, we just saw a guy in a friggin' ice cream truck delivering online packages because they didn't have enough vans or people to help, that means there is demand in the market not being met." I started asking them a series of questions:

- How could you deliver more efficiently?
- How could you streamline the delivery business model?
- How could you revolutionize the package delivery business?
- How could you find other underutilized vehicles and people to deliver?

And, then I reminded them that Amazon now has a market value of $1 Trillion. I asked them about other observations they just had?

- Why can't that ice cream man deliver Starbucks?
- Why not start a drone business to deliver Starbucks and Amazon?
- Why not figure out how to solve those delivery challenges with software, apps, drones, combination?

I reiterated; "Let's face it, you know there is unfulfilled demand in the marketplace for new delivery companies and better options when you see an Ice Cream truck delivering online packages as an Amazon Contractor."

Posted by: AT 10:25 am   |  Permalink   |  Email