Source: Alamy 

Exclusive analysis of Assosia data by The Grocer shows prices have rocketed in the major mults versus the same time last year

Frozen turkeys will be significantly more expensive this Christmas, amid mounting concerns over supplies due to the impact of avian flu.

Exclusive analysis of Assosia data by The Grocer shows prices have rocketed in the major mults versus the same time last year.

Of the 66 frozen whole turkey and turkey joint SKUs available in the traditional big four, Aldi, Lidl, Waitrose and Iceland, 50 lines were at least 10% pricier this week than they were during the first week of November 2021.

The biggest price rise was for a Waitrose Essential frozen butter-basted medium turkey crown, which at £25, was 31.6% dearer than it was a year ago, when Assosia data shows it was priced at £19 (on promotion to MyWaitrose members).

The price of a Braemoor small turkey crown sold by Lidl was the second-biggest mover, up 27.3% to £13.99, followed by a Morrisons medium turkey crown, at £21.99, some 25.7% more expensive.

A total of 20 SKUs were at least 20% dearer than this time last year, the data shows.

There are also fewer frozen turkey SKUs available in supermarket freezers, with this year’s total of 66 on 31 October some 13% down on the 76 available in the corresponding week in 2021, and 20% down on 20 December 2021.

As much as 35% of this year’s festive free-range flock has already been lost to the outbreak, the British Poultry Council said this week, with “big question marks over whether many seasonal free-range turkey producers will take the risk or sit next year’s production out”, according to CEO Richard Griffiths.

And this week Defra announced the introduction of a national housing order for kept birds in England from Monday (7 November), in a bid to tackle the UK’s worst ever outbreak, following the introduction of a temporary easement to marketing rules last week that would allow turkey, goose and duck producers to slaughter flocks early so they can be frozen – before being defrosted and sold as fresh ahead of Christmas.

Government data shows the disease has already led to the death or culling of 2.3 million birds in October alone, from 79 separate cases across the UK. This compares with a total of 3.2 million birds lost to the disease during the entirety of the 2021/22 bird flu season.

Cncerns over the impact of bird flu on poultry supplies meant Sainsbury’s was watching developments “closely”, said CEO Simon Roberts following the retailer’s H1 results this week. However, the retailer had also “ordered more turkeys overall this year than we sold last year, so we have a buffer in our plan”, he added.

Long-term measures are crucial to protecting poultry producers from bird flu