Christmas shoppers told there won’t be any turkey shortages this year

British Poultry Council rowed back on warnings that there may be a shortage

Aisha Rimi
Monday 15 November 2021 11:27
<p>UK shoppers have been reassured there will be ‘a bird for everyone who wants one’ </p>

UK shoppers have been reassured there will be ‘a bird for everyone who wants one’

Christmas shoppers have been reassured that there will “definitely” be enough turkeys in shops over the festive period.

The British Poultry Council rowed back on warnings that there may be a shortage, saying there will be “a bird for everyone who wants one” this year.

It comes as the deadline to recruit thousands of temporary workers from the EU approaches amid widespread labour shortages.

The BPC believes that about half of the visas made available have been taken up, but said that will “get us over the line”.

Richard Griffiths, head of the BPC, said while there will be “a bird for everyone who wants one”, the public would have less options to choose from.

“We’ve been able to streamline products and reduce the variety, so that helps with the overall volume,” he said.

“There will be a focus on whole birds and very simple crowns and roasts.”

In September, the government made 5,500 visas available for foreign workers as a temporary solution to help the poultry industry.

According to the BPC, 2,500 to 3,000 applications have been made, far below the 5,500 visas the industry had initially estimated were needed.

But Mr Griffiths says that thanks to a cut in the number of birds being reared and producers managing to recruit some local EU season workers with settled status in the UK, the industry won’t be experiencing turkey shortages.

For Paul Kelly, the owner of KellyBronze, a turkey producer in Essex, the government’s temporary visa scheme has made all the difference as he now has all the workers he needs to get through the festive period.

“Christmas has been saved. I just wish they’d done it earlier,” he told the BBC. “It’s impossible to do this job without seasonal workers. People say to me, you should employ local people. Well, I have four weeks’ work at Christmas. So how can I expect people to give up a full-time job to come for a month?

“We’re a seasonal agriculture business, just like raspberries and strawberries, and we need people to help with our harvest.”

Mr Kelly was able to hire 63 mainly EU seasonal workers and needed another 22 through the government’s emergency scheme.

Fears of festive shortages have led many British shoppers to buy turkeys much further in advance. Last month, British shoppers spent £6m more on frozen turkeys in comparison to last year, according to data from Kantar.

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