Wednesday, December 21, 2005

News - Turkey sales survive bird flu

The bird flu scare has failed to dent demand for Christmas turkeys, according to the latest sales figures.

Despite concerns that millions of people would reject turkeys, sales are at least as good as last year, supermarkets said yesterday.

Sainsbury's reported a 25 per cent rise in orders for fresh birds, while Asda and Tesco said bird flu fears have had no impact on demand.

At the height of the scare in October and November, there were fears that demand for turkeys would plummet, even though there have been no cases of bird flu in British poultry and no evidence that the disease can be passed to people through food.

The evidence from supermarkets is backed by a survey of 2,181 people by the market analyst company CACI, which found that 68 per cent of people are planning to eat turkey for Christmas dinner, while five per cent have yet to decide. Last year 72 per cent of people had turkey.

John Rae, director of business development at CACI, said the findings should encourage producers who may have been concerned about the impact of bird flu. "Our research suggests that the average UK consumer is quite traditionalist when it comes to planning the Christmas meal, as turkey has remained popular with many people."

Peter Bradnock, chief executive of the British Poultry Council, said: "There doesn't appear to have been any impact. There's been no reports of any drop-off in sales, while growers for the Christmas trade are reported strong sales."

Around 10 million turkeys are eaten every Christmas. The first fresh Christmas turkeys began appearing in the shops this week.

Meanwhile, the popularity of Brussels sprouts has risen this Christmas, with Waitrose saying yesterday that its sales in December have increased by 15 per cent compared with the same time last year.

Peter Cooke, the supermarket's vegetable buyer, said new growing techniques had made sprouts less bitter and had given them a more nutty flavour.

"Even the children around the dinner table will agree that sprouts are delicious," Mr Cooke said.

Telegraph News Turkey sales survive bird flu

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