Why last year’s bird f lu could mean our Xmas turkeys will cost more
TURKEYS are likely to cost more and be harder to come by this Christmas following a fall of 15 per cent in the number being reared.
Farmers carried out culls following the bird flu outbreak last winter, reducing the numbers available for breeding.
The effect, according to food supplier Beacon, which provides ingredients to hotels, restaurants, pubs, workplaces and leisure centres, is that turkey supplies will be down.
A spokesman said: ‘Approximately 10million turkeys are eaten in the UK each year, with 87 per cent of Britons believing Christmas wouldn’t be the same without a roast turkey. However, turkey chick placings are down by 15 per cent compared to last year, meaning fewer birds have hatched in time to meet the Christmas demand.’
The company said supermarket supplies should be secure and it was the catering trade that most likely to be affected.
Following the bird flu outbreak, farmers were ordered by Government vets to keep their turkeys inside. This was to protect them from picking up the infection, brought to the UK by wild birds migrating from the Continent. Many farmers did not have the space to house the turkeys, leading to culls.
Beacon said the major supermarkets have relationships with farmers and processors to guarantee they have the turkeys they need.
However, restaurants, hotels and other businesses are at the mercy of supply and demand and may have to switch to festive alternatives such as goose, beef or even chicken.
Beacon’s managing director, Paul Connelly, said: ‘While large retailers will have their quota already assured, we may see independent retailers and hospitality businesses being hit hardest, and having to pass on the increased costs to their customers.’