Increasing sales of cheap imported ”butterflies” rather than whole birds pose a threat to the future of the traditional turkey sector, warns Paul Kelly, managing director of leading UK producer Kelly Turkeys.

In recent years many retail butchers have been tempted to make easy profits by switching some of their orders from whole turkeys to these breast joints.

In his seasonal customer newsletter, Kelly is urging butchers to take a long-term view. “Turkeys grown in the UK by independent farmers is what you can offer your customers,” he says. “A unique proposition that is a very powerful message.

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“Selling less and less whole birds is a recipe for disaster in the longer term. You will lose your supply base once the critical mass has gone. Of course, you must offer your customers a choice, but I can sell the benefits of a whole bird versus a butterfly to our retail customers and change their decision.  You can as well if of course you want to!”

The newsletter reveals that for the second year in a row there is no increase in the price of Kelly Bronze turkeys. 

“This is due to the fall in price of wheat and soya, but the current prices are below cost of production and not sustainable, so it will not last forever,” he adds.