Warning of shortfall in turkeys for Christmas
THE annual festive rush in supermarket aisles for the biggest and best bird is likely to be even more frantic this Christmas, after warnings that premium turkeys might be in short supply this year.
Two leading suppliers yesterday said supermarkets had underestimated demand, wrongly assuming the recession would deter people from buying a top-of-the-range bird. As a result, up to 30 per cent fewer premium chicks were hatched this summer.
Paul Kelly, managing director of Kelly Turkeys in Danbury, Essex, said: "Early in the year, the major retailers dramatically cut their orders for premium fresh turkeys. They are now wondering if they made the right decision."
Roger Finney, chairman of the Lincolnshire-based Holly Berry Hatcheries, agreed that a shortfall appeared likely, with orders for his company's slow-growing turkeys down by between 15 and 20 per cent.
He said: "We've ended up throwing quite a lot of eggs away because of a shortage of orders. There was a lot of nervousness about the recession and people are now scrambling about for birds."
Premium turkeys tend to be slow-growing breeds. It takes up to 28 weeks for them to reach slaughter weight. Although the recession has not had an effect on the numbers of lesser quality birds reaching the supermarket, the premium variety accounts for 15 per cent of the overall market.
However, major supermarket chains said they were confident of meeting demand and that prices generally were not expected to increase on last year.
Premier Foods, Britain's biggest food manufacturer, has said that it expects shoppers to be more frugal this December. It said an anticipated fallout from the recession last Christmas was not realised, but added that rising unemployment meant it is likely people will cut back this year.
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