Great Britain

Order your turkey NOW or you won’t get one for Christmas, say farmers

TURKEY farmers are warning customers could miss out on their Christmas Day roasts unless they order a bird now.

The UK could face a "national shortage" of turkeys brought on by labour constraints - which could leave supermarket shelves bare.

British Poultry Council CEO Richard Griffiths, has already warned that uncertainty over labour crisis would mean 20% less turkeys than the supermarkets ordered at the beginning of the year.

Now, Kate Martin, chairwoman of the Traditional Farm Fresh Turkey Association (TFTA), has said that the shortage will impact major supermarkets, who may not be able to meet customer demand.

When asked whether supermarkets will run out of turkeys before Christmas, she said: "I think everyone needs to get their orders in very quickly."

Ms Martin says that some smaller farms have not been as affected by the labour crisis because they tend to employ workers in the UK.

But Griffiths said that shortages will affect everyone from the big processors to the small turkey farms who supply direct to consumers - and the outcome will be fewer turkeys on shelves.

As if a general shortage wasn't enough, farmers are warning that a massive spike in pre-orders means that anyone who wants a farm turkey should secure one now.

The TFTA says some poultry farms have already had five times more orders this year than at the same time in 2020.

Ms. Martin said: "We have seen an absolutely unprecedented number of orders come in. Come Christmas, if you leave ordering your turkey from your local farm supplier, you are going to be out of luck."

Farmers are saying that labour shortages are the main cause of the lack of turkeys, blaming an exodus of skilled, seasonal workers that have been involved in turkey production for years.

The British Poultry Council (BPC) says there is an average vacancy rate of over 16 percent of their total workforce.

But lots of experts are also saying that CO2 shortages play a worrying role and will create further problems.

Ranjit Singh Boparan, the owner of Bernard Matthews and 2 Sisters Food Group said: “The supply of Bernard Matthews turkeys this Christmas was already compromised as I need to find 1,000 extra workers to process supplies. Now, with no CO2 supply, Christmas will be cancelled."

It's not just turkeys that could cause Christmas chaos, as retailers warn Brits may miss out on Christmas trees this year due to shortages.

Supermarkets have already decked their shelves with festive goodies as they urge customers to "stock up early".

We spoke to one mum-of-two who has done all her Christmas shopping already because she's worried about shortages – and it’s saved her cash too.

Tesco warns shortages will lead to panic buying at Christmas if supply crisis isn’t solved

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