Turkey Shortage Could Ruin Christmas Dinner
The UK could experience a turkey shortage ahead of Christmas, poultry suppliers have warned.
Just when you think 2020 couldn’t be any more of a disappointment, it turns out the disruption and devastation of the pandemic could see Christmas cancelled and not enough turkeys to satisfy the demand of the British public.
According to trading associations such as the Association of Independent Meat Suppliers (AIMS), the British Poultry Council, and the National Farmers Union (NFU), Brits could see a shortage of birds on supermarket shelves, BBC News reports.
Issues look set to arise when it comes to the employment of seasonal workers that annually make sure tens of millions of families have a good supply of the festive staple. With almost 9,000 additional workers required to enter the UK to ensure the huge demand for turkey is met, it means workers from places like Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia that are drafted may be in shorter supply.
With a growing number of visitors to the UK now forced to quarantine for up to 14 days upon arrival, from all the countries above and more, it could significantly dent said entering workforce and food suppliers’ ability to meet demand during the busy period.
‘We estimate around 8,500 skilled seasonal poultry workers are needed to get the nation’s favourite Christmas dinner centrepiece on our tables,’ states NFU chief poultry adviser, Aimee Mahony. She goes on to warn that ‘around half of the people required in this profession [are] coming from other European countries.’
The major bumps in the road here are, as usual, financial concerns for the distributors. Not only could the pandemic drastically reduce the numbers of foreign workers entering the country, but food suppliers may be unwilling – or simply unable – to fulfil the additional costs of wages and accommodation for an extended period of two weeks while people safely isolate themselves.
The knock-on effect could be fewer turkeys available, and therefore an increase in price for the ones that do make their way into supermarkets.
In an extreme scenario, chief exec. of the British Poultry Council, Richard Griffiths, says some families could be left turkeyless:
If these vacancies cannot be filled, it will have a significant impact on the production of, and therefore cost of food – all of which will pose a risk to affordability and potentially force people to go without food this Christmas.
That said, the turkeys already bred for Christmas, which will have been reared before and during the pandemic even begun, will be ready for consumption, meaning companies will do all in their power to make sure they go on sale. The British Poultry Council say around 9 million have already been produced.
If the worst does happen, and the public are left without, it’ll see millions of the gobblers slaughtered in January – which will be a great start to a new year, for turkey lovers at least.
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