‘Expect the unexpected’ – turkey marketing meetings roundup

13 November 2023

Free range bronze turkeys

Chief Poultry Adviser Aimee Mahony shares the key take-home messages from the NFU's autumn turkey marketing meetings.

The annual series of NFU autumn turkey marketing meetings was attended in person by more than 100 seasonal producers, who heard the latest reports on costings and market insights, as well as an update on policy issues and raw feed materials.

As normal, the highlight of each meeting for members has been the opportunity to network with other producers, sharing the challenges facing the sector and swapping ideas on marketing and production.

Thanks must go to the sponsors Farmgate Hatcheries, ForFarmers and Massey Feeds for their continued support of these meetings. The NFU’s indicative costings were shared (and are included, below) showing a 2.3% overall increase in the cost of producing a 5.5kg turkey this year compared to last year.

Price changes

Costs Components 2022 2023 % change y-on-y
Feed costs (a) £17.63 £15.99 -9.3%
Poult £4.67 £5.47 +17.1%
Brood £0.63 £0.68 +7.9%
Farming costs (b) £4.24 £4.67 +10.1%
Pluck £3.13 £3.43 +9.6%
EV £3.28 £3.60 +9.8%
Packaging costs £2.17 £2.29 +5.5%
Distribution costs £0.99 £1.11 +12.1%
Overheads £10.03 £10.76 +7.3%
Waste removal £0.06 £0.06 0.0%
Total Turkey £46.83 48.06 +2.6%

It’s important to note that individual businesses will have different costs dependent on location, size and the way they purchase inputs such as feed or poults. For example, by using the same approach as we’ve previously used in the comparison of one tonne bags using an August spot price, the costings show a 9.3% reduction in feed costs this year.

However, we know that feed costs have been extremely volatile and will vary between producers dependent on how much they buy and if, and when, they fixed the price. Aside from feed and waste removal, all other costs have seen an increase with the largest rises attributed to poults and distribution.

At the West Sussex meeting on the 18 September, Paul Kelly from Farmgate Hatcheries said that poult placements were down this year around 15%. While there have been reports of some producers coming out of seasonal production altogether, others have increased bird numbers this year to supply new customers.

“Expect the unexpected” was the take-home message during the feed update from Tom Welham, Sales Director at ForFarmers. Tom referenced Brexit, Covid, the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the weather as key drivers for volatile markets. “Markets react to the news,” he said, before moving on to explain how ForFarmers are looking to help producers reduce their carbon footprint and improve transparency in terms of responsibly-sourced soya, which is another area of interest within the poultry sector.

At the end of each meeting attendees were gifted remaining stocks of NFU-branded turkey merchandise following the closure of the NFU turkey merchandise shop. A new partnership is now in place with Butchers Sundries which sees NFU members able to access their products at discounted prices.

With only 42 days to go until Christmas, may I take this opportunity to wish all our seasonal producers a successful season. Like many people, I am looking forward to British turkey on my festive plate!

Turkey cost comments

The costings are based on a 5.5kg turkey. The feed costs are based on a season price (August spot price), based on 1 tonne of bagged feed; producer prices may be different depending on when you ordered and discounts if you buy in bulk. Brood and farming costs have increased due to energy costs and other overheads.

The NFU has been calling for government to include poultry farmers in the new energy discount scheme, as they have the processing sector. Labour costs are based on annual increases in the annual living wage and national insurance contributions, however, labour costs can be significantly higher depending on availability and it doesn’t reflect any additional costs of using the seasonal poultry visa scheme.

Last year’s packaging costs are based on the NFU turkey boxes, while this year’s packaging costs are based on an unbranded box from the NFU’s new rewards partner, Butchers Sundries. This is why our costings show an increase in price where other turkey producers may not see this. NFU members would receive a further 12.5% discount and free delivery on all orders when they order their boxes from Butchers Sundries.

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