Turkey farmers see 250% surge in orders as families scramble to save Christmas dinner


Turkey farmers are reporting a surge in orders as families scramble to save Christmas dinner amid fears of a poultry shortage. 

There have been unprecedented numbers of orders for turkey, with most high-end farms reporting soaring demand compared to this time last year.

This panic buying surge has seen some farms receive more than five times the number of orders as in 2020. Several farms are reporting 250 per cent surges compared to figures from this time last year.

It comes as a chilled food firm which supplies the likes of Asda and Sainsbury’s yesterday announced it had gone into administration amid the UK’s crippling lorry driver shortage.

Meanwhile the boss of the UK’s Traditional Farm Fresh Turkey Association (TFTA) today blamed Brexit for Britain’s supply chain crisis. 

The recent closure of fertiliser factories, due to a spike in natural gas prices, has also led to disruption in food production.

The closure of the plants, one of which has since reopened as part of a Government deal, has led to a decrease in food-grade carbon dioxide – used to stun animals for slaughter, as well as in packing meat, dairy and salads. 

There have been unprecedented orders for turkey, with most high-end farms reporting soaring demand compared to this time last year

It comes as a chilled food firm which supplies the likes of Asda and Sainsbury’s (pictured: Library image) yesterday announced it had gone into administration amid the UK’s crippling lorry driver shortage

Supply issue threatens Christmas: The classic Christmas dinner could be decimated, with turkey, pigs in blankets, potatoes and brussel sprouts all at risk by ongoing supply and distributions issues, as well as a potential CO2 crisis. Meanwhile, toys, vinyl and books could also experience shortages – with experts even warning of Christmas trees not being available

Fears over a possible shortage has now led to a surge in ordering good quality turkeys to prepare for Christmas, according to the Traditional FarmFresh Turkey Association (TFTA) which represents the high-end turkey market.

To cater for the increase in demand in turkeys, many farmers have had to start taking orders earlier than usual with one Cornish farm having customers push to order as early as August.

Boris Johnson insists on a pay rise for truckers and will send a million of them morale-booster letters

Boris Johnson has called on HGV bosses to give drivers a pay rise as the Prime Minister prepares to send them one million morale-boosting letters in the run-up to Christmas.

Ministers are said to be urging up to 40,000 retired hauliers to return to action in a last-gasp bid to save Christmas, as retailers warned the Government it has less than two weeks to prepare for the festive season.

Meanwhile, Boris Johnson is to personally sign off on a million morale-boosting letters urging drivers who turned away from the industry to get back on Britain’s roads.

The move comes amid a nationwide panic-buying spree at petrol stations and growing fear inside Downing Street that supermarket shelves could remain barren until December 25.

Supermarket Tesco has already warned that a shortage of delivery drivers, which is causing empty shelves, could lead to panic buying across Britain in the lead up to Christmas. 

Kate Martin, a Cornish turkey farmer and chair of the Traditional FarmFresh Turkey Association (TFTA) said: ‘Last year we saw record demand, particularly for smaller turkeys, due to an increase in smaller gatherings and a desire to make Christmas lunch extra special, despite the restrictions.

‘This year, many of our members have increased their flocks significantly to help meet growing demand for quality turkeys.

‘While there will be more Golden Standard turkeys available this year, the orders we are currently seeing surpass anything we have ever seen before.’

Last year, there was increased demand for turkeys produced to the TFTA’s Golden Turkey Standard, a quality assurance which guarantees the birds are free-range, dry plucked and game-hung.

This year, demand has continued to rise, with high-end turkey farmers increasing their flocks by 8 percent.

Around 40 farms in the UK specialise in producing turkeys to the Golden Turkey standard and they are normally found in farm shops and butchers. 

It comes as Derbyshire-based EVCL Chill Ltd called in administrators, with around 400 jobs said to be at risk.

Administrators PwC said acute driver shortages had added to the company’s challenges. 

EVCL Chill, which is based in Alfreston, has sites across the UK including Daventry, Rochdale, Crick and Penrith.

It employed more than 1,000 staff in warehousing and HGV driving roles. Around 650 employees had been transferred ‘to key customers’, administrators said.

Around 400 staff are said to be ‘at risk’ and will be addressed about the company’s future on Monday, saw PwC.

The company turned over £167million in the period up to December 2020.

But administrators say the firm had lost key customers in recent years. The company’s issues had been compounded by the UK’s HGV driver shortage, according to PwC.

It comes as Derbyshire-based EVCL Chill Ltd called in administrators, with around 400 jobs said to be at risk. Administrators PwC said acute driver shortages had added to the company’s challenges.  Despite EVCL Chill going into administration does not affect the wider EV Cargo Group, which continues to trade as before. Pictured: Library image

A major shortage of HGV drivers threatens to wreak havoc this winter, and the shortage has been exacerbated by a huge backlog in HGV tests due to Covid

Eddie Williams, joint administrator, said: ‘This has been a very difficult situation and involved intense discussions with key stakeholders on an accelerated basis to get to this position.

‘As businesses move from survival mode to recovery, the financial climate is still very volatile.’

Despite EVCL Chill going into administration does not affect the wider EV Cargo Group, which continues to trade as before.

It comes as the UK continues to feel the effects of the UK’s crippling HGV driver shortage.

The UK is short of around 100,000 HGV drivers due to knock on impacts from Covid and Brexit, experts say.

There are fears of a new ‘winter of discontent’, with empty shelves this winter and a shortage of tankers to get fuel to petrol pumps.

One fear is that there will not be enough turkeys for Christmas dinners this year. 

Today Ms Martin said the labour shortage brought on by Brexit is ‘100%’ the reason for concerns over turkey supplies in the lead-up to Christmas.

Asked whether Brexit was to blame, she told the PA news agency: ‘For sure it has come from a lack of labour.

‘We’re small producers, we use local labour, but for the big processors it is 100% caused by a labour shortage.

‘This situation with turkeys is caused by the fact that European labour is no longer available to us, and they are skilled workers who have been coming to us for years.

‘People are now missing a whole host of their workforce that they have been training and investing in over the last however many years, and those workers are no longer available for us to use on a seasonal basis – they will go find work on mainland Europe instead.

‘We’re an innovative industry and we will get through it but there are less turkeys to be had.’



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