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‘Rule of six’ unlikely to dampen Christmas turkey demand

turkeys in a field

KELLY TURKEYS’ Paul Kelly has said he does not think the newly imposed ‘rule of six’ will affect demand for Christmas turkeys if it is still in place at Christmas.

Mr Kelly told Poultry.Network that the firm had been monitoring its website and said that sales were buoyant, with people tending to order the usual 4-5kg birds, which serve 8-10 people.

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“I think people will just potentially have a few extra servings if they can only get together in groups of six,” he said. “We’ve not seen people put off by the new rules.”

A shortage of turkeys could be a more likely prospect. Retailers have ordered far fewer birds this year in light of the uncertainty that coronavirus presented earlier this year.

According to Defra statistics, day-old turkey poult numbers dropped by half a million in June and July, when compared with the same two months last year.

Shortage

Lower bird placings, combined with fewer people travelling abroad on holiday at Christmas may create a shortage of birds, Mr Kelly suggested.

The company will operate a ‘Drive-Thru’ collection service this year, and only accept pre-orders.

Another turkey producer had a less optimistic outlook for this year’s season.

Cut bird numbers

Nick Davis, from Usk Vale Poultry, told BBC Farming Today that he had cut bird numbers by about 20% this year, and said the size of birds that customers would want remained a concern.

“In May, when we canvassed our main core of customers, who are retail butchers, they were having a boom time.

“[They] were saying nothing is going to change, because everything’s buoyant, and we want the same numbers as last year. But that was easy for them to say.”

Luck

“We have to decide what size people want and you can’t even tell me today what size that might be.”


Mr Davis added: “The run-up to Christmas is not a fun time for a turkey farmer at the best of times, but this year we really are on tenterhooks.

“It’s going to be a lucky turkey producer that gets this Christmas right, rather than a clever one”.