“When we started to grow organic poultry 15 years ago it was unheard of, but six years ago retailers became interested,” said Mark Gorton, director of Traditional Norfolk Poultry at the recent Pig and Poultry Fair.
He started the business 20 years ago with his business partner producing just 12 turkeys. Having seen a potential opening for organic poultry, he now sees a £10m turnover and produces two million speciality turkeys a year, processing 50,000 seasonal turkeys and rare breeds.
As the business grew Mr Gorton began to also growing chickens. Seeing that there was an opening for organic poultry, he focused the business on a niche market.
Rare breed pork and beef was already established but there was nothing in the poultry sector, so about four years ago he started with a couple of dozen turkeys.
Mr Gorton spent the first year researching the market before narrowing down three rare breeds.
“We produced 500 in the second year and sent them to market and to Asda and they all sold out. Last year we increased numbers to over 2000,” he said.
“If you have been following the Christmas Turkey market you will have noticed that most retailers stocked their own rare breed,” he added.
“Our strategy is that we always try and do everything ourselves from building our own mobiles housing to rearing, processing and distribution,” he said.
“We are market and not production driven and we always try and do what our customers want. We are always looking for the next opportunity.
Mr Gorton said that flexibility has been the key to their success. “We don’t want to be blinkered and keep our business to one particular species.”