Insights from the NFU's 2020 Turkey Marketing Meeting

Published 21 September 2020

Aimee Mahony and turkeys_74908

The NFU's annual turkey marketing meeting went virtual for 2020, with around 100 people tuning in for an informative programme of presentations.

Here, NFU chief poultry adviser Aimee Mahony shares an overview of the meeting.

She writes:

Proceedings were led by the NFU turkey group chairman, Michael Bailey, and our four speakers covered a number of topics including cost of production, marketing insights and an update on the feed market.

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The evening kicked off with two speakers from feed company ForFarmers UK. UK poultry director David Hilldrith provided an overview of the key phases of turkey nutrition and Will Foote shared his market insights as a raw materials manager. David gave an update on the turkey breeding, rearing and finishing stages, emphasising the importance of the correct diet at each life stage while Will gave an overview of global wheat stocks. He stated that we are currently seeing a nine year high so at a top level it looks well supplied however for harvest 2020 there is a shift in balance with more wheat being harvested in the southern hemisphere and less in the northern hemisphere. Closer to home, this year the growing season has reached headline news after being hampered by the weather. The UK produced 16 million tonnes last year with a bumper crop however this year it is expected to only be around 10 million tonnes.

♦ Click here for more information on the ForFarmers Traditional Turkey feed range

Next up, I presented this year’s costings. It’s important to remember that each individual business is different so the costings might not reflect exactly your cost of production but by looking at the general trends it should give you an idea of what’s happening with prices for different components involved in producing a turkey.

The largest increases in costs are attributed to feed, followed by the pluck and EV. The latter is adjusted largely based on the labour it requires to perform such procedures and is therefore linked to the National Living Wage increases. This year’s detailed costings can be seen below alongside a comparison to last year’s costs and the percentage change year-on-year. The costings are based on a 5.5kg turkey.

Cost comparison 2019 to 2020
Costs components20192020% change year on year
Feed costs (a)£10.49£11.5410.05%
Farming costs (b)£3.64£3.711.92%
Packaging costs (c)£1.48£1.480.00%
Distribution costs£0.85£0.872.35%
Overheads (d)£8.87£9.031.80%
Waste removal£0.04£0.040.00%
TOTAL TURKEY£35.38£37.124.92%

a) Feed costs are based on prices quoted for delivery August 2020
b) Farming costs includes: gas, litter, shavings and labour costs (including family labour)
c) Packaging costs based on NFU's individual boxes
d) Overheads incorporates the following: shed depreciation over 20 years, machinery, office rents, insurance, admin and IT plus costs for any promotional/marketing activities

NFU marketing and merchandise

I also gave an overview of all the NFU member benefits for seasonal poultry producers, including a free listing on the NFU’s postcode search tool, the Turkey Finder, access to discounts on products from the NFU turkey merchandise shop and free ‘Talking Turkey’ worksheets and Christmas dinner images which are useful for anyone who may be generating their own marketing materials. Following member feedback, this year a discount on the delivery costs for products ordered via the online shop has been introduced, on top of the discount members already receive on all products. 


The NFU-led #buymyturkey campaign is now in its fourth year and this year the social media focus will be taking place on Friday 4 December. The campaign aims to raise the profile of turkey producers, encouraging consumers to back British farming and choose local where they can by using the NFU’s Turkey Finder to find their nearest turkey farmer. The social media day has proven successful in previous years with over 10,000 views on the Turkey Finder webpage in the first week of December in 2019 and on the social media day itself there were 40% more views than the previous year. I hope members will get involved again with this year's campaign and I look forward to seeing social media pages full of turkeys and turkey producers on the 4 December!

Kelly Turkeys

Last but by no means least, NFU member and celebrity in the world of turkeys Paul Kelly, managing director of Kelly Turkeys gave an entertaining and informative account of ‘Christmas the Kelly way’. Paul gave an overview of the Kelly Turkey business, founded by his father Derek in 1971 and now welcoming the third generation of the family into the business to help drive it further forwards in years to come. 

Paul Kelly - turkey farmer_58016

Pictured above: Paul Kelly

Paul talked about the importance of getting the early days of rearing poults right in order to establish a good flock. Where possible his preference is for whole house brooding, reducing the temperature by 1°C degree a day from a starting temperature of 35°C. This usually takes around three weeks which is the point where the birds come off the heat. He went on to share insights as a farmer but also as an established and well-known marketeer, talking openly and honestly about the Kelly business.

Paul said: “Generally the farming and production side of the business is relatively easy compared to the selling. To sell enough birds at the right price we work really hard at marketing our products.”

Farm gate sales are a big part of Christmas trade for Paul and his family with 1,900 birds being sold from the farm gate. Therefore clear farm signage and having a presence online are crucial.

Paul added: “90% of all orders are made through the website so without it I don’t know where we would be. We have invested a lot of time and money in it and it’s an area where we can tell the customer a story and sell our products”.

Paul ended his presentation by talking through the big effort the business goes to for collection days, creating a magical Christmas grotto with family activities. Paul said that this year, due to coronavirus restrictions, he has plans for the Christmas spectacular to be converted into a drive-through experience.

Click here to visit the Kelly Turkeys website for more information on the business

Click here for a video Paul provided showing the set up for a Kelly Turkeys Christmas collection day

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