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Good future for Christmas turkey despite trials

Despite the recession, farmgate sales to the local community remain a growth area, says Paul Kelly, MD of turkey poult suppliers Farmgate Hatcheries.

“It ticks all the right boxes for consumers’ needs,” says Kelly in his annual letter to turkey producers. “While we are in a recession and going through tough times, collecting the turkey from the farm and meeting the farmer has tremendous perceived value.”

His advice is to study the customer base:  “Get close to them and produce what you know you can sell. Don’t rely on maybe selling turkeys at the last minute to fellow producers.”

Kelly contends that the grocery business always fares well in recession — people have to eat. “The major retailers did have a very good Christmas with food. The Cranfield Institute maintains that in recession luxury food also fares well as people will treat themselves with relatively low cost items such as food while saving on big ticket items such as cars, holidays and electrical goods.”

For producers looking to save costs, he recommends buying one third of an order as as-hatched poults rather than sexed hens to provide a spread of finished weights to supply most order books.

“To supply weights of 7kg plus, the males from our breeds provide the same quality as females and most importantly have better eating quality than large strain hens. The fast growing hens of other breeds are bred to have very lean meat and because of the fast growth the fibres are very coarse… Explain this to your customers — they cannot ignore eating quality. The grain and marbling of the meat is totally different.”

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Farmgate Hatcheries

Natalie Berkhout

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