Why last year’s bird f lu could mean our Xmas tur­keys will cost more

Daily Mail - - News - By Sean Poul­ter

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.’

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