Whole turkey sales poor, but butchers report good Christmas

While standard whole turkey sales suffered, many butchers enjoyed a positive Christmas period, with alternatives such as beef proving a big hit.

Q Guild chairman Brindon Addy of J Brindon Addy, West Yorkshire, said: “Everyone I’ve spoken to had a bumper Christmas, and I’m very pleased. Whole white bird turkeys were well down – they just collapsed for us – but boneless joints like stuffed breasts did very well.

“We also sold a lot of beef and pork. We were 17% up on last Christmas, I think we’ve kept a lot of customers that came to us after horsegate.”

Roger Kelsey, chief executive of the National Federation of Meat and Food Traders, told meatinfo.co.uk that the picture was mixed, but that generally butchers had a good festive season. He echoed Brindon’s experience of a shift in what was in demand.

“Whole bird sales were down, but there was an increase in boneless turkey joints and other meats. Sales varied in different areas; in the most depressed areas, like the West Country and the North East, most people went for turkey breasts. People want value for money and convenience in this respect. However, in the more affluent areas like the South East, ribs of beef were on the increase,” he said.

Roger reported that overall trade was good, but that orders had come very late. He also believed more people went to butchers to buy processed meat.  

“One week before, customers were coming in saying the supermarkets had stopped taking orders, so butchers saw a real uplift at the end. There was a definite upturn in sales of sausage meat, stuffing and pigs in blankets. There’s still a stigma attached to processed supermarket meat following the horsemeat scandal. People now obviously trust their butcher more. It’s something that has stuck,” he said.

Danny Lidgate of Lidgate’s in London was also pleased with Christmas trade, noticing a clear increase in demand for turkey alternatives.

“The general consensus in the business was positive – not dramatically emphatic, but positive. Beef was well up for us, especially rib roasts and rolled joints,” he said.

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