Friends and customers of Kelly Bronze Turkeys gathered in a copse near Chelmsford to celebrate 30 years since founder Derek Kelly revived the breed as a commercial enterprise.
His son, and managing director, Paul, highlighted big developments for the company, including a fledgling American enterprise, increasing the number of woodland-reared birds and a free-range turkey parent flock.
He also said plans were advanced for the first 24-hour turkey drive through, meaning customers may be able to buy a bird at any time, day or night, over the Christmas collection period.
Paul Kelly explained the purchase of the 106-acre farm in Virginia was to try and tap into a huge market for turkey that lacked a premium, high-end product. “I know all the industry big players out there, and they think we’re mad,” he said. “They say: ‘Turkeys are a dollar a pound, get over it. You’re trying to sell a turkey at ten dollars a pound, it’s not going to happen’.
“I don’t really get that because the sales of fine wine and champagne go through the roof at Thanksgiving in the US and they sell 60 million turkeys there.
“We just want a tiny weenie bit of it for those people that want something very special and genuinely better for Thanksgiving dinner.”
This season will see an expansion of a two-year trial in selling the traditional “New York Dressed” Bronze bird back to the USA, where it originally came from. The experiment is showing strong signs of success, with the 1,000 birds reared over in America this year already sold, and winning wide acclaim from chefs and food writers, added Mr Kelly.