Turkey trouble could mean gaps on shelves at Christmas

Shops could run out of turkeys at Christmas thanks to an exodus of European workers and “unprecedented” demand.

It comes after speculation that Boris Johnson has sought an “emergency” deal to import turkeys from Brazil.

The Traditional Farm Fresh Turkey Association (TFTA) chairwoman Kate Martin told PA Media that grocers and major processors would likely be hit by labour shortages.

The TFTA, which represents free range turkey producers, also believes that some poultry farms have had five times more orders than 2020.

READ MORE: UK facing Christmas turkey crisis, Waitrose boss warns

“Supermarket shelves… will be emptier on turkeys this year than they have been before,” Martin claimed.

On whether Brexit is to blame, Martin said the issue was “100 per cent” caused by skilled European workers returning home.

“People are now missing a whole host of their workforce that they have been training and investing in,” she added.

“I think everyone needs to get their orders in very quickly.”

Last month, Waitrose boss James Bailey said some families might not be able to get hold of a turkey this year because of worker shortages.

The supermarket’s meat suppliers believe around a third of their butchers have returned to eastern Europe for good.

“They cannot produce the orders that they’re being asked for at the moment which is manageable for now,” Bailey said.

“But when you get towards Christmas and the volume doubles it’s not manageable.”

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