Cherryridge Poultry’s turkey processing plant in Norfolk is set to close for the last time before Christmas, another victim of the avian flu scare and the collapse in market prices.

Initially, closure threatened 75 processing jobs, but now there is hope that 20 jobs and the rearing operation will be saved following a rescue act by Norfolk’s other big poultry operation, Bernard Matthews.

Under the terms of a deal, which is expected to be signed shortly, Cherryridge will contract grow organic and free-range turkeys for processing and marketing by Bernard Matthews. Output of free range at Northrepps, near Cromer, where the business was started 50 years ago by John and Bridget Roper, is put at 100,000 to 120,000 a week.

Bernard Matthews’ commercial director, Bart Dalla Mura, said the company had always planned to move into the organic and the free-range market and saw the approach by Cherryridge as a chance “to bring affordable organic and free-range turkey to the market sooner”.

“It is a rapidly growing market and one we want to develop,” he said.