Increase in seasonal turkey complaints

Seasonal turkey producers experienced an increase in the number of customer complaints last Christmas as consumers took advantage of supermarkets’ “no-quibble” guarantees.

Addressing the recent Norfolk and Suffolk Poultry Association meeting in Diss, Traditional Norfolk Poultry director Mark Gorton described the trend as “predictable”.

“Everybody is judged on the level of complaints they get post-Christmas,” he said. “This year we knew were going to get lots of ‘off complaints’ because it was so mild and people would still buy their turkeys and put them in the garage.

“We’re also seeing professional complainers coming in,” he added. “You’re talking about whole birds and you’ve got expensive products that can be £50, £60, £70. Lots of supermarkets now are offering no-quibble guarantees. You’ve only got to go in after Christmas, say that it didn’t taste very nice and you get your money back.

“Year-on-year with Christmas turkeys we’re seeing more complaints because of these no-quibble guarantees and because of the price of it.”

Mr Gorton, whose company supplies high-welfare poultry to a number of major retailers, explained that it was ultimately the supplier’s responsibility. In the case of a complaint the supplier is penalised for the cost of the product, plus a fixed charge.

“It’s a bit stressing really,” Mr Gorton added.

Despite these challenges, Norfolk Traditional Poultry continued to perform well across its range of poultry products. Organic sales had certainly fallen, but the company had picked up business when others had dropped out.

“The free-range market for us has stayed fairly stable,” he added. “We were a bit concerned 18 months ago whether people were still going to buy our products. But they are. Customers have made their choice. That’s what they want.”