Future success of traditional Christmas turkey production depends on establishing clear points of difference from the major retailers, according to Paul Kelly, managing director of FarmGate Hatcheries, a leading poult supplier to the European market.
With the supermarkets now supplying better quality, free range and bronze turkeys, the farmer and butcher need to play to their strengths to protect and develop their market.
There are a number of points of difference that the major retailers find it very difficult to achieve, Kelly said in his annual newsletter to producers.
Farmers and butchers should maximize the ‘magical experience’ and ‘feel good factor’ of collecting the Christmas turkey from a local supplier with the transparent provenance this provides, he says, along with conveying the benefits of dry processing and hanging.
“FarmGate sales to the local community are still a growth area. They tick all the right boxes for consumers’ needs. The economy is undoubtedly going through tough times, with consumer confidence low. However, collecting the turkey from the local farm or butcher has tremendous perceived value. Christmas dinner is a very indulgent meal, and one that people will continue to treat themselves to.
“My personal belief is demand for good quality farm fresh turkeys will continue to grow in the long term providing we as farmers work hard at ensuring consumers know where to buy our turkey and offer an easy order service with a range of added value products to satisfy demand.”
In his own case, more than 75 percent of all retail orders came for their website — “The days of telephone and snail mail are quickly coming to an end.”
He warned against dumping unsold turkeys on to local wholesale markets which were again oversupplied with very cheap prices.
“Local markets are useful but not if they are used by our customers to buy turkeys at depressed prices way below the cost of production. If you have turkeys left over, cut them up and freeze them to be used by family and friends after Christmas, rather than oversupply the local market.
“The attraction of realising the cash at whatever cost can be very expensive in the long term if your local customers go to the auction market to buy rather than direct from you.”
The FarmGate Hatcheries price list offers a range of five bronze and four white breeds, with the black Roly Poly officially included for the first time.