Kelly Turkeys has set its sights on the US market, The Grocer can reveal - with a trial batch of its premium KellyBronze turkeys on sale in the lead-up to Thanksgiving this week.

The Essex producer’s famed KellyBronze turkeys went on sale for the first time in Virginia and Washington State this week, in a pilot that involved flying 400 eggs to the US earlier this spring to be hatched and raised in Virginia.

The turkeys sell for $10/lb (about £12.58/kg) - five times the average $1.99/lb (£2.50/kg) price of a turkey in the US. However, MD Paul Kelly said the premium position gave Kelly Turkeys a USP in a market s dominated by mass-produced turkeys. “There’s not an offer out there anywhere close to the premium area we’re in.”

The greatest challenge was to educate US shoppers in relation to the black feather stubbs which were left in KellyBronze turkeys after plucking, because they are hand-plucked, added Kelly.

Kelly was looking to turn the point of difference to its advantage, however, with a “look for the designer stubble - that’s the sign of a real KellyBronze” strapline on promotional material.