The British Turkey industry is concentrating its efforts on persuading cash-strapped consumers to buy a whole bird this year, effectively getting the legs free.

Catriona Lee, chairman of the British Turkey Federation‘s marketing committee explained: “Economic pressures mean many people will be looking to make the most of their budgets this Christmas, so our message to them is that a whole bird offers exceptional value for money.

A whole bird is traditional at Christmas and looks stunning on the table. Alternatively, once they get their turkey home, consumers can remove the legs before cooking and freeze them for a meal later in the year. Or they can cook the turkey whole and make some of our delicious recipes specially created for leftovers from the leg meat. But the whole point is, the legs effectively come free.”

The campaign, expected to hit 35m households, kicks off on Monday 1 December when a series of chefs deliver freshly cooked whole turkeys to national radio stations with red ribbons tied round the drumsticks to highlight the “legs come free” message.

Also new this year is an instant response texting service, designed to appeal to younger customers. This will provide shoppers with information as they browse the turkey fixture.

Consumers simply text the weight of their birds in kg to “Turkey 64446”, to receive a return text giving defrosting and cooking times for the bird, along with a link to the British turkey website for more handy hints.

She added: “For those who prefer to talk to a real person, our freephone British Turkey Hotline will again be manned until 5pm on Christmas Eve to help consumers with defrosting times and cooking tips. This has been immensely popular since we introduced it 6 years ago and benefits every retailer and butcher who is selling British turkeys this year.”

The British Turkey website, which received more than 100,000 visitors last Christmas, will continue to run its on-line cooking and defrosting calculator along with a daily fun competition, carving guide and hints and tips for how to have a stress free Christmas.