Poll: Turkey sales fall as buyers in Suffolk opt to serve chicken on Christmas day

Emma Brennan emma.brennan@archant.co.uk
Thursday, December 19, 2013
12:58 PM

The familiar sight of the traditional turkey or goose on the Christmas dinner table could gradually be becoming a thing of the past, according to the British Poultry Council.

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With budgets tightening due to the credit crunch and many smaller butchers’ shops closing, demand for bigger or whole birds has dropped.

Instead, the council has noticed a growing trend towards people buying smaller birds or crown joints as customers seek to avoid paying for parts of the festive roast that are often wasted.

About 10 million turkeys are produced each year to cater for the festive period in the UK, with Christmas trade accounting for more than half the country’s annual turkey sales.

From Christmas 2008 to 2012, demand for crown joints - which is basically just the top part of the turkey - almost doubled.

Another factor is that turkey prices have risen by about 13% in the past two years, the council confirmed.

Butcher Henry Ruse, whose Long Melford shop has been trading in the village for 153 years said sales of turkeys was definitely down.

He said: “We are not selling as many turkeys but we are selling a lot more big chickens. They tend to stay moist and have a great flavour. Some of it is about cost but a lot of it is about changing tastes.”

The Johnson family has been farming turkeys at Yorley Farm in Little Cornard near Sudbury since 1948.

For the past 30 years, Clive Johnson has been running the business with his brother Martin. They supply around 20 local butchers with poultry including traditional white turkeys, bronze turkeys, geese and four bird roasts, and they sell direct from their farm.

Clive told the EADT: “We have had some new orders for whole turkeys but year on year, we have seen demand increase for rolls and crowns and demand for whole birds drop.

“We have also seen a decrease in the three bird roast and sales of goose are also down.

“We usually sell around 2,000 turkeys each Christmas - mainly to butchers shops - and we supply around 20 local butchers. But one of the problems is that where there used to be six or seven butchers in Sudbury alone, now there is just one.

“We have managed to boost our trade by advertising but a lot of the trade has gone to the supermarkets.”

Mother of three Karen Ashton from Sudbury said she believed cost was a factor. She added: “We will not be buying a turkey this year because the children only like the breast meat and we find there is only so much you can do with the leftovers.

“The crowns are an option but they are much more expensive by weight, so we will be buying a chicken which is much cheaper and tastes very similar.”


  • When did nut roast become "meat"? At this rate we'll have people calling themselves vegetarian when they eat fish or chicken. Oh hang on though...

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    Wednesday, December 18, 2013

  • the old word meat does cover fish nuts etc,

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    Thursday, December 19, 2013

  • Turkey is a very bland and dry meat, there's a reason most people hardly eat it the rest of the year. Never understood why it's the choice for the biggest family meal of the year.

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    Esco Fiasco

    Tuesday, December 17, 2013

  • I don't find turkey bland or dry - it depends where you buy from and how you cook it. The turkeys that I eat (free-range) always taste amazing - but you do have to pay more than in a supermarket.

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    Thursday, December 19, 2013

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