A TURKEY farm has seen its orders surge weeks ahead of schedule as Brits scramble to secure their Christmas dinners.
The action comes as UK supermarkets are two weeks away from running out of British meat, industry experts have warned.
Heart of England Farms co-owner Judy Gronning said that the turkey farm is "incredibly buoyant" as people rush to book their Christmas food.
She commented amid concerns over soaring energy prices which have led to a drop in CO2 supplies, impacting the meat industry.
Carbon dioxide is vital in the food trade as the gas is used to stun pigs and chickens prior to slaughtering, and is also used in the packaging process.
The Claverdon, South Warwickshire, farm provides some 10,000 turkeys a year, along with cockerels, ducks and 1,000 free range geese.
Gronning told Metro: "We are three weeks ahead of where we were last year.
"It’s incredibly busy and we haven’t experienced this level of demand before.
"It could be an early flurry or people responding to stories in the media so it could even out but it’s incredibly buoyant at the moment."
She explained that retail customers had bumped up pre-Christmas orders, while the farm has also been approached by a major supermarket seeking a new supplier.
But the farm was unable to fulfil its request, "which far exceeded anything an artisan farm like ours could supply".
Gronning said the farm doesn't depend on CO2 to prolong its meat, as it has a fast turnover, also supplying butchers, farm shops and private customers.
However the producer is still short-staffed, needing 10 more employees to help cope with growing demand.
It could be an early flurry or people responding to stories in the media so it could even out but it’s incredibly buoyant at the moment.Heart of England Farms co-owner Judy Gronning
She mentioned hearing that other major producers had "cut their production... [by] hundreds of thousands".
Nick Allen, chief executive of the British Meat Processors Association, said manufacturers have between five and 15 days' CO2 supply left.
Fertiliser plants have closed down due to the rising cost of energy - this has a knock on effect on the meat industry which uses the waste CO2 produced by the factories.
Mr Allen told Sky News that the factories, which accound for 60% of CO2 production, closed "at very short notice with no warning".
The shortage will particularly impact supplies of pork and chicken, as 80% of pigs and poultry are slaughtered using CO2.
He added: "Then they will have to stop. That means animals will have to stay on farms.
"That will cause farmers huge animal welfare problems and British pork and poultry will stay off the shelves."
'CHRISTMAS IS ON'
Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said on Tuesday that a deal has been struck with a firm to avoid shortages in carbon dioxide.
He has now struck a deal with fertiliser firm CF Industries, which had suspended operations because of the high cost of energy.
Kwarteng admitted there could be families this winter who would have to choose between eating and heating their homes, when pressed on the issue on ITV's Good Morning Britain.
The Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, told Sky News "Christmas is on" following concerns within the poultry industry about turkey supplies.
Johnson acknowledged the Government had taken "direct steps" to safeguard CO2 supplies, although so far there is little detail of the deal.