British turkey prices soar due to bird flu

19-12-2007 | | |

The British have had to dig deep into their pockets for turkey this Christmas. With bird prices up by 38%, the demand for organic turkey also increased, pushing prices up to $200.

1,800 turkeys on Sheepdrove Farm in Britain’s Berkshire Downs spent the summer and autumn living and eating well over the months. Organic farms such as Sheepdrove are flourishing after one of the most difficult years for Britain’s poultry industry.

Bird flu strikes – causing skyrocketing costs
A total of almost 200,000 birds were culled after outbreaks of a deadly form of bird flu. This caused feed prices to surge on higher wheat costs. As a result, holiday bird prices were pushed up by nearly 38%, which increased the demand for organic turkeys. Customers started forking out £100 ($205) for a turkey.

Although turkey orders were stopped in early December, “we’ve had about 100 calls since we sold out,” said Michael Benson, the farm sales manager of Sheepgrove.

Increased sales predicted
Sales of organic turkeys will jump 46%, the British Retail Consortium predicts. That compares with a 7% increase the industry group forecasts for total turkey sales.

England had its first outbreak of the deadly H5N1 strain of bird flu last February at a turkey farm operated by Bernard Matthews Holdings Ltd., Europe’s largest factory poultry producer.