Turkey carcasses hanging up waiting to be sold© Photofusion/REX Shutterstock

Increasing sales of cheap imported “butterflies” rather than whole birds pose a significant threat to the future of the traditional turkey sector, warns Paul Kelly, managing director of leading UK producer Kelly Turkeys.

In his seasonal letter to customers, Mr Kelly points out that, in recent years, many retail butchers have been tempted to make easy profits by switching some of their orders from whole turkeys to these breast joints.

“I know it is easier, and very profitable, but those of you selling imported butterflies, please take a long-term view,” he said.

 “Selling fewer whole birds is a recipe for disaster in the longer term. You will lose your supply base once the critical mass has gone.”

See also: Christmas turkey producers seek bigger profits

Turkeys grown in the UK by independent farmers offered a unique proposition with a very powerful message.

“Of course, you must offer your customers a choice. But I can sell the benefits of a whole bird versus a butterfly to our retail customers and change their decision. You can as well – if of course you want to.”

The major supermarkets were offering 100% British in their fresh turkey range.

Mr Kelly also pointed out that, even though KellyBronze birds were typically £12 a bird more expensive than other free-range bronze birds, that was down to extra ageing and dry-plucking costs. They also offered far more breast meat.

The newsletter also reveals that, for the second year in a row, there is no increase in the price of KellyBronze turkeys, due to the fall in price of wheat and soya.