TRADITIONAL fresh turkeys will need to rise in price by 5-10% this Christmas to cover increased costs.

That was the view of producers attending the first of this year‘s nationwide round of NFU turkey marketing meetings last month, at Godstone in Surrey.

Costings presented by the NFU‘s chief poultry advisor Peter King revealed that the total cost after depreciation of producing a 5kg oven-ready hen (6.1kg deadweight) to 18 weeks was up by nearly 4% to £3.17 per kg, a rise of 10p/kg.

For a 9kg oven-ready, 22-week stag, the rise was 3.4% to £2.01 per kg, a rise of 6p/kg.

Although feed costs had declined a little, there had been substantial increases in labour and poult costs. Labour was up by 4.8% year-on-year to £4.12 per bird; and poult prices by 5.6% to £3.59 (see table)

Costs of producing 5kg
oven-ready hen to 18 weeks

Feed £3.49
Labour £4.12
Poult £3.59
Marketing £0.76
Disposal £0.27
Misc. £0.92
Total £13.15



However, many producers felt that this understated the rises. Derek Kelly from Essex said that calculations made a month ago showed a rise of 5% in costs overall, which would be going straight on to their selling prices.

“If we incur it, we will pass it on,” he declared.

Clive Wreathall from Kent would be aiming for a 10% rise this year.

“We have got to get our margins up,” he said. “Otherwise the business is not sustainable. We are going to need a new evisceration plant this year, and they don‘t come cheap.

“You don‘t lose customers because you put your prices up,” maintained Mr Wreathall.

“We do a lot of work for our butchers, so they are prepared to pay the extra. In fact we have a waiting list of butchers,” he claimed.

Part of that work was putting all the birds in individual boxes, and printing bar codes.

“People want bar codes now, but it isn‘t a problem. It‘s easy enough with a computer.”

Some of his added-value was simply bought-in. If he paid £2 for his boxes, leaflets and herbs, he sold them on for £3: “I‘m not a commodity producer.”

Peter King also disclosed the results of the NFU annual poult survey, which showed an overall rise of 3% in placings for the Christmas market – more details next month.