Roast turkey could be rare treat at Christmas
Traditional roast turkey may be off the menu at Christmas with a Perth butcher predicting a “turkey fight” for last-minute orders and plumped-up prices next year.
WA’s biggest turkey producer, Mt Barker, stopped processing turkeys in September and was focusing on other meat lines.
General manager Michael Tarling said consumers’ appetite for turkey had declined and it was no longer viable to farm the big birds just for Christmas demand.
Mt Barker processed about 30,000 turkeys a year, with one-third sold for the festive season.
“We have to maintain the business from January to December every year and outside of those peak periods there wasn’t enough demand to sustain it, ” Mr Tarling said.
“The other issue is people aren’t willing to pay a premium over chicken and the cost of production of turkey is higher.”
Frozen turkeys would still be available this Christmas.
“But we don’t have fresh any more and, as of next year, we won’t have any frozen, ” he said.
The decision has concerned WA butchers and the nation’s turkey industry group, which fears demand will outstrip supply.
Inglewood butcher Vince Garreffa said he sold about 1500 whole birds, 1000 turkey rolls and 500 drumsticks and breasts during the peak period.
He sourced 50 per cent of his turkeys from Mt Barker, but would have to increase numbers from Eastern States suppliers.
Mr Garreffa said smaller butchers who relied on local supplies of poultry would struggle.
“We’re definitely going to struggle when such a big player is no longer down the road, ” he said. “I’ve never felt the insecurity felt this year for supplies.”
Mr Garreffa said it would be more difficult to meet last- minute Christmas requests.
He predicted the price of turkey would rise next year to absorb east coast freight costs.
Australasian Turkey Federation president John Watson said it was a concern that another farmer had cut production.
The federation fears under-supply of Australian-grown turkeys will lead to “the threat” of imported product.
© The West Australian