Heatwave in Europe could lead to UK shortage of Christmas turkeys

The UK could face a turkey shortage this Christmas as a heatwave in France has resulted in dwindling supplies of eggs for farmers.

French breeders provide about a quarter of eggs hatched in the UK that go on to become the birds that form the centrepiece of festive dining tables.

But supplies are about 10% down on expected levels after temperatures have topped 40C (104F) in France according to Paul Kelly, chairman of the British Turkey Federation and the boss of free-range turkey producer KellyBronze.

Kelly told the Grocer trade journal that “huge amounts” of turkey eggs due to hatch by late August had been lost. He said ongoing high temperatures could put further pressure on supplies.

“It’s a bit of a nightmare. We’re seeing a massive shortage of eggs at the moment,” Kelly said.

The potential egg shortages come as turkey farmers also face potential cost rises from a shortage of labour partly caused by uncertainty over Brexit which has put off workers coming to the UK.

But Shraddha Kaul of the British Poultry Council said it had not received reports from members about problems with egg production in the UK, which accounts for about three-quarters of supplies to farmers here.

“We need to keep an eye on supply of French eggs but hopefully the supply issues will be sorted out sooner rather than later,” she said. “British turkey farmers have worked hard to have a sustainable supply of meat for Christmas.”


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