The free range turkey sector has taken the ‘biggest hit’ from the avian influenza (bird flu) crisis, and this may impact Christmas turkey supplies, the British Poultry Council (BPC) is warning today (Friday, November 11).

Chief executive of the BPC, Richard Griffiths, said that the free range turkey sector produces over one million of the total eight and a half million Christmas turkeys, and around 30%-35% have been directing affected by bird flu.

“Those who buy free range may see fewer turkeys available as a result, but farmers are working hard to mitigate the impacts of what has been an extraordinarily tough year for UK poultry production,” he said.

“We continue to work with government on measures that support producers to protect their healthy birds from this awful disease, and to try produce a turkey for everyone who wants one this Christmas.”

There have been 103 confirmed cases of the highly pathogenic disease confirmed in England since October 1, 2022.

There have been 237 cases of the H5N1 strain in England since the outbreak started in October 2021.

Red meat to replace poultry this Christmas?

Analysts at the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) recently predicted that red meat and pork joints will challenge poultry for a place on dinner plates this Christmas.

This conclusion was drawn after they looked at recent buying behaviours, the cost-of-living crisis and market trends, as well as factoring in the current bird flu crisis in the UK.

These reasons, coupled with turkey losing volume share last December, led the AHDB experts to believe that people will move away from the traditional centre piece to other options.

The predictions follow warnings this week of a potential shortage of Christmas turkeys and price hikes due to the country‚Äôs largest ever bird flu outbreak.