Traditional turkey producers need to take full advantage of the move to placing Christmas orders online and outside office hours, says Paul Kelly, managing director of FarmGate Hatcheries.

In his annual spring newsletter to poult customers, he says that at Kelly Turkeys their online sales increased in volume by 10 percent and farmgate sales by 14 percent.

“Out-of- office hours ordering increased and the move to ordering from smart phones and tablets is dramatic,” he says. “Investing in our website – and in point-of- sale material – has paid dividends.”

He also points to their success in capturing late orders: “Twelve percent of our sales were after December 14. The major retailers close their order service on or around the December 14, but we can keep open for a further week to provide great customer service.”

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Another success was in changing their pricing structure from price per kg to price per bird, using the midpoint on every 1 kg weight band to set the price. “I wish we had done it years ago,” says Paul Kelly. “Simple, easy and a no brainer.”

Looking ahead, he believes that plastic and non-recyclable packaging is a big ‘No’ and that this will become a major issue very quickly.

Vegetarian and vegan diets are increasing among the student and younger generation, he says, with estimates rating 3 to 10 percent of the population as non-meat eaters.

“I do not think this will affect the top end of the market as the decision maker on Christmas lunch tends to be the older generation. Turkey will continue to take the center stage and a nut roast alongside.”