A Thanksgiving Logistics Story

A short and simple story about the logistics process undergone by a turkey fryer in time for the Thanksgiving holiday:


Thanksgiving is quickly approaching and all I want is a deep fried turkey, a beer or two and a day celebrating with friends and family. Besides beer, I need two ingredients: turkey and a deep fryer. My local department store sells a turkey deep fryer for $69, and it looks sufficient.



After purchasing the fryer I look at the bottom of the package. It reads:  “Beijing, China”. As we all know, Beijing is the industrial garden of the world, but it doesn’t have a port. My turkey fryer was, after it was finished in the factory, transported 120 miles over land, by truck to the nearest port of Tianjin. In Tianjin my fryer was probably put with many other products in one container, with as a final destination: Boston. In Tianjin, my container is loaded on top of a container vessel by a giant crane. This container vessel, is a called a feeder, and relatively a small one, in the container vessel family.


My fryer leaves from Tianjin to Shanghai, the main port of China for international shipping. It’s a 1,000 (land) miles journey. When arrived, the container is put together with all other containers on a bigger container vessel of the type New Panamax. This type of ship can contain up to 15,000 containers, and has a maximum length of 366 meters. One meter extra is not allowed, otherwise it won’t fit through the (new) Panama Canal. It is exactly 9335 miles to the Panama Canal. Although you would maybe expect that my turkey fryer would go through the Panama Canal, something else happened. The container is offloaded in the port of Balboa, right next to the Pacific entrance on the Canal.


The container is then put on a train, and railed to the Atlantic side of Panama. In the harbour of Colón, the container is put on a smaller container vessel most likely carrying only containers for North America. The container ship now heads straight north for the next 2200 miles to arrive in the big port of Newark, New Jersey. After a trip of almost 13.000 miles my turkey deep fryer will be delivered by truck from Newark to Boston, offloaded in a warehouse, and distributed to the department store. What a trip, and it takes only 3 weeks. I feel incredibly rich that something comes from so far to give me and my family a wonderful thanksgiving dinner.


Now I’ll fire up the deeper fryer, drop in the turkey, and if you don’t mind, open my well-deserved beer. Happy Thanksgiving from your friends at Logistics List!