Local focus for turkeys

Turkey producers were urged to make the most of the 'local and regional' food dynamic at their annual Traditional Farmfresh Turkey Association (TFTA) members day.

TFTA chairman Mike Binder hosted the day at his farm in Rumburgh, near Suffolk. Binder produces around 10,000 turkeys ? mostly free-range bronze ? for the Christmas market.

Guest speaker Colin Clarke, chief executive of regional food group Tastes of Anglia, said he expected the current focus on local and regional food to continue for the next two or three years and he urged turkey producers to "make hay while the sun shines" before another vogue, quite possibly a "conservation and eco dynamic", took over.

He added that with the current economic climate, producers would have to work harder to persuade another 1-2% of the middle-of-the-road consumers to choose something with real heritage, rather than a mass-produced item from the supermarket.

Binder said the TFTA campaign this year would major on the EU certificate of specific character ? the Traditional Speciality Guaranteed, gained by its Golden Promise turkeys, now achieving growing recognition throughout the food sector.

"We shall be stressing how different our turkeys are from the mass-produced birds, as they are slow-growing strains taken to maturity, dry plucked and hung for 10 days. That is just not done by the big commercial producers," he said.

"We will be impressing on our butchers the need to get this message across to their customers, as it is only right they should do their bit. We're also encouraging members to invite their butcher customers on to their farms to show them how we rear and dispatch our turkeys."

More than 70 visitors from as far as Yorkshire, Hampshire, Dorset and Wales took part in the day-long programme, which included a tour of the farm, a demonstration of mobile feed mixing by Harbro/Feedmix and a discussion on prospects for 2008, led by prominent Essex turkey producer Derek Kelly.

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