Less ‘Nog, More Turkeys: DoD Thanksgiving Food Market Proves Volatile

Last year, troops deployed around the world drank enough eggnog on Thanksgiving that, if the holiday drink were turned into fuel, it would fill a company of Marine Corps tanks three times over.

This year, the troops won’t even have enough to fill out a single-tank platoon with eggnog, a blow perhaps equal to the fact that the Marines no longer have tanks.

As the Global War on Terror winds down and the military focuses on nearby threats in Eastern Europe and the South China Sea, the Defense Logistics Agency, or DLA, is sending the lightest shipment of several traditional items of the Thanksgiving menu the military has seen in five years, according to the agency’s available data.

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But thanks to the DLA and 9,155 whole turkeys, troops can still expect to eat a lot on Thanksgiving, wherever they are.

A Military.com analysis of the past five years of Thanksgiving food data showed precipitous drops in nearly every major food item the DLA ships to kitchens and galleys around the world, four of which weigh in pounds lowest the military has ever seen. since 2017. That said, total feed weights were largely unchanged from last year, with estimates of whole turkeys accounting for more than a third of all haul.

The reduction in tertiary foods like sweet potatoes and shrimp is perhaps a symptom of shifting military priorities in key regions outlined in the Pentagon’s National Defense 2022 strategy, with unit deployments and rotations shifting (or reducing) from the Middle East to Eastern Europe. and the reorganization of tactical units to meet critical needs in the Pacific theater.

Or maybe the troops just want a lot of turkey this year. And less shrimp.

The DLA is shipping more than 219,000 pounds of roast turkey, beef, ham, shrimp, sweet potatoes, pie and pastries to troops around the world, nearly 40 percent less than what service members saw last year. the first time that the DLA did not transport any food to Afghanistan.

Shipments of whole turkeys, the traditional centerpiece of many Thanksgiving meals, totaled 137,325 pounds, or a 60% increase over last year, making this year’s total DLA shipment more than 375,000 pounds of holiday food.

Order forecasts for the individual services arrived in the DLA’s inbox in March of this year, giving the agency plenty of time to discuss with the vendors tasked with compiling the holiday meals.

“Over the next several months, we will be tracking the delivery of products to supplier warehouses,” said Army Capt. Tim Griffin, director of subsistence supply chain, in a press release emailed to Military.com . “Then we go one step further by tracking every Department of Defense order that is placed and delivered just before Thanksgiving.”

While many key Thanksgiving staples saw their smallest orders since 2017, desserts were up 25% over last year.

The logistics center will distribute 41,745 pounds of roast turkey this year, less than half what was reported in 2017 and 30% less than last year.

The amount of beef being shipped around the world this year is down 60% from 2021, when nearly 100,000 pounds were served to service members in the US and deployed.

Overall, holiday beef shipments had risen slowly since 2017, except for a slight dip in 2020. This year marks a huge drop in the Pentagon Thanksgiving beef trade.

The shrimp, a Thanksgiving item that rarely gains the stardom that turkey or sweet potatoes get, weighed in at about 17,884 pounds this year. Troops apparently ate 67,860 pounds of the pink crustacean in 2018. That said, they ate less than half the year before, indicating the Pentagon holiday shrimp market may be more volatile than previously believed.

Sweet potatoes registered their lowest weight since 2018, although critical sweet potato data was not available for 2017. At just over 9,000 pounds, sweet potatoes were down 77% from last year.

“We have many great teammates in Troop Support who work hard throughout the year to help our fighters both at home and away, especially during the holidays,” said Army Brig. Gen. Eric Shirley, DLA Troop Support Commander, told Military.com via email statement.

— Drew F. Lawrence can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @df_lawrence.

Related: More Ham, Sweet Potatoes, and Desserts: The Food US Troops Will Devour This Thanksgiving

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