The Lowdown: The turkey shortage

By Joe Lutrario contact

- Last updated on GMT

 The turkey shortage restaurants

Related tags: Christmas dinner, Casual dining, Fine dining, Chefs

Feathers look likely to fly in restaurant kitchens as chefs struggle to secure birds for the festive period.

Have all the supplies been gobbled up already then?
Not exactly. Domestic turkey output is significantly down on last year thanks to the summer drought and the widespread outbreak of the parasite histomonas meleagridis, which trade body British Turkey  believe killed as many as 60,000 birds. Purchasing company Beacon says hospitality businesses and independent retailers and are likely to be hit hardest by lowered stock levels and increased prices, and may need to pass price hikes onto the consumer to make ends meet.

Ouch. Can’t the UK just source from abroad?
Yes. But supply from Brazil - one of the country’s biggest poultry suppliers - is limited due to the EU banning exports from three major producers.

Sounds like we're stuffed. Boris and Co must be spitting feathers...
Probably. Newspapers in the Leave camp are unsurprisingly blaming the European Commission. But it should be noted that the ban - which was put in place back in April - was due to “deficiencies detected in the Brazilian official control system” and allegations of bribes being paid to Brazilian government inspectors to overlook unsanitary conditions and practises.

Fowl play, then.
It certainly seems that way.

How many turkeys does the UK get through each year?
Approximately 10m according to British Turkey. Roughly three quarters of Brits eat turkey for their Christmas dinner at home, but the bird is less dominate out of home. While The Parkers Arms’ Stosie Madi thinks not putting turkey on the menu over Christmas is “suicidal”, many customers will happily defer to other meats.

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