IT proved to be a disappointing year for the turkey sector in 2022 with fewer poults raised throughout the year, and culminating in a sharp drop in whole bird sales in the Christmas period.

Poult placings fell every month last year, compared with the same months of 2021. Overall there were 1.3m fewer birds placed during the year, amounting to a cutback of 8.5% to 13.8m.

See also: Poultry feed prices could dip lower in 2023

The downturn extended to the Christmas season when whole bird sales by volume dropped 13% in the four weeks to 25 December, compared to the year before, according to Kantar retail data. That said, prices paid were up by 11%.

This fall in sales was reportedly due in part to consumers reacting to warnings given in the run-up to Christmas about a likely shortage of whole turkeys.

It was partly offset by a 5% increase in turkey crowns and joints, but overall there was a fall in turkey volume of around 3% (and 21% against the pre-Covid Christmas of 2019.

Christmas chicken sales

By contrast, of all the meats (including red meat), whole chicken made the most significant gains, with a 12% rise in volume sales year-on-year.

This was a strong indicator of a ‘trading down’ with the onset of the cost of living crisis.

Close behind in performance were lamb roasting joints, showing a 10% year-on-year rise. Beef and gammon were slightly up as well.


Broiler placings finished the year on a weaker note after a strong recovery in the third quarter.

Day-old chick placings dropped by 2.4m in the final quarter, or just under 1%, due to a sharp year-on-year fall in November. They were up by 11m, or 4%, in the previous quarter.

However, combined with the lower placings in the first half of the year, the broiler sector finished 2022 with a net downturn of 5 million chicks, or 0.4%, compared with 2021.