Skip to main content

Thanksgiving and the Supply Chain

Understanding the Transportation Industry’s Crucial Role in Thanksgiving

It is estimated that 55 million Americans will be traveling for the 2020 Thanksgiving holiday.

In addition to the planes, trains and automobiles that will get people to their Thanksgiving destination, the trucking industry also plays a vital role in making the holiday possible.

More specifically, trucks are key in the delivery of some of our favorite Thanksgiving staples, including:

  • 46 million turkeys
  • 80 million pounds of cranberries
  • 5 million gallons of jellied cranberry sauce

For the transportation industry, it isn’t just about getting this food to your table, it is also crucial to get it there safely.


Examining the role of regulations in food safety

New regulations like the Food Safety and Modernization Act (FSMA) have transformed the nation’s food safety system by shifting the focus from responding to food-borne illness to preventing it. To comply with FSMA, the trucking industry has to follow strict regulations to ensure that food is properly handled throughout the transportation process including:

  • Temperature control/tracking: For refrigerated products, every storage compartment must be pre-cooled and have a temperature monitoring device. Shippers must also define temperature specifications to be met throughout transportation.
  • Temperature certification/data exchange: A log of temperature conditions for the duration of the transportation must be provided to the receiver/shipper by the carrier upon request.
  • Cleanliness: Vehicles must be maintained in a sanitary condition and are subject to inspection. Loading/unloading stations must have hand-washing facilities.
  • Training: Carriers must provide basic sanitary transportation practice training to their personnel.
  • Data Retention: All records must be stored for a period of 12 months.


While transportation is just one aspect of the supply chain in the food and beverage industry, it is an area that is just as important as any other. Considering that transportation is one-third of the supply chain – from farms, to transportation, to stores/restaurants before reaching consumers – all parties are tasked with working together under the regulations outlined by the FSMA to ensure that food reaches consumers in a safe manner and to prevent food-borne illnesses.


Technology’s role in safety and compliance

The rise of freight visibility solutions has enabled shippers and carriers to share data more openly and freely through trusted, third-party vendors. By doing so, shippers and carriers can make sure that they are compliant with food safety transportation laws, which helps prevent the transportation of products from causing a food-borne illness outbreak.

Trimble enables shippers and carriers to monitor their freight from the time it leaves the warehouse to the time it reaches the customer. By providing insight into temperature control and location tracking, shippers and carriers can ensure that food and beverage products are transported according to FSMA regulations and that both parties are following the rules outlined by the contract.

In the end, improved collaboration will help prevent the transportation of products from being responsible for foodborne illness outbreaks. 

So, remember as you sit down for your Thanksgiving meal: be thankful for the men and women of the transportation industry who made your culinary festivities possible – and safe.